Perceived environmental and health risks of nuclear energy in Taiwan after Fukushima nuclear disaster

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Ho, Jung-Chun
Lee, Chiao-Tzu Patricia
Kao, Shu-Fen
Chen, Ruey-Yu
Ieong, Marco CF
Chang, Hung-Lun
Hsieh, Wan-Hua
Tzeng, Chun-Chiao
Lu, Cheng-Fung
Lin, Suei-Loong
Chang, Peter Wushou
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After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in Japan in 2011, a nation-wide survey using a standardized self administered questionnaire was conducted in Taiwan, with a sample size of 2,742 individuals including the residents who live within and beyond 30 km from a nuclear power plant (NPP), to evaluate the participants' perceived nuclear risk in comparison with their perceived risks from selected environmental hazards and human behaviors. The three leading concerns of nuclear energy were "nuclear accidents (82.2%)," "radioactive nuclear waste disposal (76.9%)" and "potential health effects (73.3%)." Respondents (77.6%) perceived a higher relative risk of cancer incidence for those who live within 30 km from an NPP than those who live outside 30 km from an NPP. All the participants had a higher risk perception of death related to "nuclear power operation and nuclear waste" than cigarette smoking, motorcycling, food poisoning, plasticizer poisoning and traveling by air. Moreover, the residents in Gongliao where the planned fourth NPP is located had a significantly higher perceived risk ratio (PRR) of cancer incidence (adjusted odd ratio (aOR) = 1.84, p value = 0.017) and perceived risk of death (aOR = 4.03, p value b 0.001) related to nuclear energy. The other factors such as female gender (aOR/p value, 1.25/0.026 and 1.34/0.001 respectively), lower education levels (aOR/p value: 1.31/0.032; 2.03/b0.001) and the participants' concerns about nuclear accidents (aOR/p value: 1.33/0.022; 1.51/b0.001) and potential health effects (aOR/ p value: 2.95/ b0.001; 2.56/b0.001) were found to be commonly associated with the PRRs of "cancer incidence" and "perceived risk of death" related to nuclear energy, respectively. In addition, the respondents' concerns about nuclear waste disposal and possible eco-environmental damage made significant contributions (aOR/ p value: 1.39/ 0.001; 1.40/b0.001) to predict their perceived risk of death related to nuclear power. These factors are considered as important indicators and they can be used for suggesting future policy amendments and public referendum on the decision of the operation of the planned NPP.

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Environment International

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© 2014 Elsevier Inc. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.

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Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety

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