Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - SALSA School of Analytical Sciences Adlershof

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Faculties & Departments | SALSA School of Analytical Sciences Adlershof | Scientific Inquiry Lecture on Risk Assessment with Dr. Mark Lohmann, BfR

Scientific Inquiry Lecture on Risk Assessment with Dr. Mark Lohmann, BfR

  • When Apr 25, 2017 from 03:00 to 05:00
  • Where ESZ 0'101
  • iCal

On April 25th, SALSA presents a Lecture on the topic „Risk Perception and Risk Assessment - an important bundle for scientific policy advice” with Dr. Mark Lohmann, Unit Risk Research, Perception, Early Detection and Impact Assessment at the Department for Risk Communication, Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).

The lecture will start at 3 pm.

Location: Lecture Hall 0'101 at Erwin Schrödinger Zentrum, Rudower Chaussee 26, 12489 Berlin.


Information for SALSA Fellows on the event format:

Following the public lecture, SALSA Fellows wil participate in a workshop on the topic. This lecture-workshop is a combination regarding the topic of scientific communication. We are scientists and as such we have a repsonsibility to make science more accessible to people. This lecture and especially the following workshop should help you in that regard.


Information on the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR):

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) was founded in November 2002 as a body under public law within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). BfR has the statutory remit of providing information on possible, identified and assessed risks which foods, substances and products may entail for consumers. It seeks to present the entire assessment process in a transparent manner to the public at large. By means of comprehensive, complete and easily understandable risk communication BfR renders science visible to and beneficial for consumers.



Consumer health protection involves research, assessment and communication of risks. In this context it is not just the risks themselves that are important but also their communication in the media and how they are perceived.

Since the individual risk perception is influenced by many factors, it is a big challenge to predict, which risk issues in the public discussion are relevant and which not. In the German population risk issues such as dioxin-contaminated food or the use of pesticides are regarded with high concern. Other risks, such as bacterial infections caused by poor hygiene or heat-related contaminants in food do not attract wide interest.

While the risk assessment process analyses and assesses risks based on the available scientific data, consumers tend to perceive risks intuitively and generally subconsciously through a "media filter". For example, risks tend to be underestimated if people are familiar with the topic in question, if the potential harm is seen as being in the distant future or if people assume they will not be personally affected. By the same token, risk awareness is greater and hazards tend to be overstated if there appears to be no freedom of choice, if high numbers of people could be harmed by a single incident or if there is no perceivable advantage that would counteract the potential harm.

Beside the individual perception also the communication of uncertainty influences the public attitudes towards potential health risks. Especially the EHEC-outbreak in early summer 2011 in Germany has shown that the discussion of uncertainties in conjunction with information about risks is often not understood by the recipients. Furthermore, it leads to contrary assessments. In some cases it increases trust in the source of information but in others it is also seen as a sign of incompetence and lack of honesty.

Methodological approaches will be introduced that allow a simple and reliable identification of the risk perception specifically related to food risks. The corresponding combination with tools that help to understand socio-cultural change, the structure of society, and the psychology of citizens and consumers enables target group-oriented risk communication.