Disentangling the exposure experience: The roles of community context and report-back of environmental exposure data

Crystal Adams, Phil Brown, Rachel Morello-Frosch, Julia Green Brody, Ruthann Rudel, Ami Zota, Sarah Dunagan, Jessica Tovar, Sharyle Pattonand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


This article examines participants' responses to receiving their results in a study of household exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds and other pollutants. The authors study how the "exposure experience"-the embodied, personal experience and understanding of chronic exposure to environmental pollutants-is shaped by community context and the report-back process itself. In addition, the authors investigate an activist, collective form of exposure experience. The authors analyze themes of expectations and learning, trust, and action. The findings reveal that while participants interpret scientific results to affirm lay knowledge of urban industrial toxics, they also absorb new information regarding other pollutant sources. By linking the public understanding of science literature to the illness and exposure experience concepts, this study unravels the complex relationship between lay experience and lay understanding of science. It also shows that to support policy development and/or social change, community-based participatory research efforts must attend to participants' understanding of science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-196
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of health and social behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • environmental health
  • exposure assessment
  • health social movements
  • illness experience
  • public involvement in science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social Psychology


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