The problems regarding communication of risks in the environmental sector and the analysis of certain causes of pollution, together with their effects on human health are the subjects of this article. In an illustrative and concise manner results of the most important epidemiological studies concerning the effects of non-ionizing radiations, of radon and of air pollution have been analyzed. Throughout this analysis emphasis has been placed on the difficulty of obtaining clear and scientifically based results. Such results are needed in order to provide the population with satisfying information and thus meet the increasing demand for unambiguous answers. Among the risk factors for human health are the high frequency electromagnetic fields used for mobile phones (radiofrequency--RF) nd extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMFs) of power-lines. Even though these risk factors may be minimal the high number of persons exposed could make them an important impact on public health. Regarding the topic of air pollution, effects on particular segments of the population (children, elderly people and subjects with chronic diseases) have been found in various studies; for example, for an increase of PM(10) of 10 microg/m(3) an increase in daily mortality of 0.69% (CI 0.40-0.98) due to cardiovascular and respiratory causes has been estimated as well as an increase in general daily mortality of 0.54% (CI 0.33-0.76). Due to the populations' low risk perception (caused by unawareness of the problem) radon is undoubtedly the environmental pollutant which has the most impact on public health. This is true even in Italy where 4,000 cases of lung cancer attributable to radon (about 11% of total lung cancer) have been estimated per year; this risk is heightened by the combined effect with smoking. When dealing with health risks the tools of communication must be simple and correct; the mass-media are the most important mediators between the scientific community and the public. It is therefore vital for the public health operators to maintain a continuous relationship with the mass media which should be based on reciprocal trust and full collaboration.
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