Perceptions of and Exposure to Arsenic in Private and Public Drinking Water Among Households

EPA Grant Number: R832235
Title: Perceptions of and Exposure to Arsenic in Private and Public Drinking Water Among Households
Investigators: Shaw, W. Douglass , Moeltner, Klaus , Walker, Mark , Riddel, Mary , Jakus, Paul
Institution: Texas A & M University , Utah State University , University of Southern California , University of Nevada - Reno
Current Institution: Texas A & M University , University of Nevada - Reno , University of Southern California , Utah State University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: April 18, 2005 through October 15, 2007
Project Amount: $310,017
RFA: Valuation for Environmental Policy (2003) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice


Household heads are assumed to make key decisions regarding the protection of children from health risks. For both public drinking water systems that are not in compliance with current or proposed standards, and private wells, arsenic poses a health risk to children who ingest water which contains significant levels of it. The objectives are to: (i) measure the household's perception of risks to households (including those with children) from ingesting private well water contaminated with arsenic; (ii) compare these perceived risks to objective risk measures and do the same for a sample of households on public water systems; (iii) communicate possible discrepancies between these two measures to the household; and (iv) measure behavioral responses to updated information.


Much data on actual behaviors (water consumption and source, filter and treatments) has been collected for private well users already and will be supplemented. Data will also be collected for those on public systems using household surveys and, for those households on public systems, water quality and quantity data.

Modeling and results will fill a gap in the environmental economics/risk literature, most of which uses stated preferences. We intend to estimate a possible ambiguity effect (uncertainty about the risks), which coincides perfectly with a lack of knowledge regarding the cessation-lag described by the SAB.

Expected Results:

The results can be used to communicate the best information regarding risks to households on public systems so that possible opposition to increasing costs of water treatment can be met. Results can also be compared to private well users’ responses, and this group can also be given the best updated information. Comparison of public system and private well users responses can be used to shed light on issues in valuation of health risks for children in a public goods and private goods setting.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 11 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 4 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

risk assessment, exposure, revealed preference, RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Water, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Health Risk Assessment, Arsenic, Biochemistry, decision-making, Water Pollutants, Environmental Policy, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, children's health, environmental awareness, decision analysis, drinking water, environmental decision making, decision making, morbidity risks, household choice, arsenic exposure, mortality risks, efficient household framework, human health risk

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2005
  • 2006 Progress Report
  • Final Report