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Understanding public responses to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents: Driving factors, emerging themes and research gaps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-74
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

King's Authors


This paper discusses the management of public responses to incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials (CBRN). Given the extraordinary technical and operational challenges of a response to a CBRN release including, but not limited to, hazard detection and identification, casualty decontamination and multi-agency co-ordination, it is not surprising that public psychological and behavioural responses to such incidents have received limited attention by scholars and practitioners alike. As a result, a lack of understanding about the role of the public in effective emergency response constitutes a major gap in research and practice. This limitation must be addressed as a CBRN release has the potential to have wide-reaching psychological and behavioural impacts which, in turn, impact upon public morbidity and mortality rates. This paper addresses a number of key issues: why public responses matter; how responses have been conceptualised by practitioners; what factors have been identified as influencing public responses to a CBRN release and similar extreme events, and what further analysis is needed in order to generate a better understanding of public responses to inform the management of public responses to a CBRN release.

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