The management and remediation of contaminated environments increasingly involves engagement with affected local residents. Of late, risk communication tools and guidelines have drawn attention to the stress and concern of residents as a result of heightened awareness of localised contamination and the need to address these less visible impacts of contamination when engaging with affected communities. Despite this emerging focus, there is an absence of research exploring the factors that predict resident worry about neighbourhood contamination. This paper aims to address this shortcoming by drawing on data from a cross-sectional survey of 2009 adult residents in neighbourhoods near 13 contaminated sites across Australia. Ordered logistic regression was used to determine the sociodemographic, environmental, and knowledge-based factors that influence residents’ degree of worry. The findings suggest age, gender and income significantly affect residents’ degree of worry. Being knowledgeable about the contaminant and having a stronger perception of a sense of place within a particular neighbourhood were associated with lower degrees of worry. Type of contaminant also impacted resident worry, with residents being less likely to worry about solvents and metals than other types of contaminants. Our analyses suggest resident worry can be reduced through improving access to accurate information and the development of specific risk reduction strategies tailored to each neighbourhood and aimed at the heterogeneous distribution of worry amongst residential populations.
- Contaminated land and groundwater
- Policy and practice