Health for humans, animals & plants

Risk Barometer Health and Environment 2022

In 2017, we established the Risk Barometer Environment & Health together with the Risk Dialog, an initiative of the Federal Environment Agency and Radio Ö1.

This is a periodic survey of the Austrian population with year-specific focuses on risk perception. Since 2021, it has been conducted without the involvement of the Risk Dialogue. The 2022 survey focused on health, the environment, climate change and nutrition. The aim of the risk barometer is to determine the Austrian population's concern about risks and the subjective level of information about them. It has thus formed the basis for our risk communication and information for years.

At present, the highest levels of concern relate to the topics of environmental pollution, climate change and social inequality. There has been a particular increase in concern about energy supply and about epidemics and animal diseases, although these peaked in terms of worry in 2020. Food safety and nutritional quality and supply are of least concern to Austrians.

Of all the items relating to climate, environment, health and nutrition, risk perception is highest for the effects of pesticides on the environment, land sealing and consumption, loss of semi-natural habitats and disappearing glaciers, and lowest for water quality and pathogenic germs in food.

In 2022, Austrians:inside are more concerned about the increasing number of heat days and heat waves, land sealing, land consumption and soil quality than they were in 2017. The respondents are significantly less concerned than they were five years ago about harmful substances produced during food preparation, antibiotics and antibiotic resistance, drug side effects and hormone-like substances in food, personal care products and other products.

Around three-quarters of respondents feel inadequately informed about hormone-like substances in food, personal care products and other products, mold toxins in food and feed, antibiotic residues and harmful substances that arise during preparation. These topics were already the ones that showed the highest need for information in 2017, although the proportion feeling uninformed has also decreased for all of them.

In general, the subjective assessment of the level of information about the individual risks is higher this year than in 2017. The difference is particularly large for new diseases for humans, land sealing and land consumption, allergenic substances in the environment and in food, and pathogens. In contrast, respondents feel less informed than in 2017 only about the risks of malnutrition or overeating, hazards from more frequent and intense heavy precipitation, heat, and water quality.

The main source of information is the Internet, followed by online media and television.

Last updated: 14.09.2022

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