PERCEIVED ARSENIC-RELATED MORTALITY RISKS FOR SMOKERS AND NON-SMOKERS

Authors

  • W. DOUGLASS SHAW,

    1. Shaw: Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Research Fellow, Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2124. Phone (979) 845-3555, Fax 979-862-1563, E-mail wdshaw@tamu.edu
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  • PAUL M. JAKUS,

    1. Jakus: Professor, Department of Applied Economics, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322. Phone 435-797-2309, Fax 435 797-2701, E-mail pjakus@usu.edu
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  • MARY RIDDEL

    1. Riddel: Professor, Department of Economics, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV. Phone 702-895-2792, Fax 702 895-1354, E-mail mriddel@unlv.nevada.edu
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    • The authors thank all who helped us design the arsenic survey questionnaire (Paan Jindapon, Klaus Moeltner, Mark Walker), improve on it (Trudy Cameron, J. R. DeShazo, Kerry Smith), implement it (Laura Schauer and PA Consulting), or prepare and organize the data (Yongxia Cai, To Nguyen, Kati Stoddard). We thank Richard Dunn, Yoshi Konishi, Ximing Wu, and Steve Yen for comments on or related to this paper, and Kerry Smith is particularly acknowledged for his careful read of an earlier version of this paper. Responding to comments from three anonymous reviewers improved the paper. Data collection and analysis was supported via a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, and the Texas and Utah Agricultural Experiment Stations. The conclusions stated in this manuscript are not necessarily supported by the U.S. EPA; any errors that remain are the authors' responsibility.


Abstract

Prolonged ingestion of arsenic in drinking water can increase the risks of dying of lung and bladder cancer, particularly for smokers. In a survey of arsenic hotspots in the United States, we elicited individuals' subjective mortality risks related to the presence of arsenic in drinking water. Using this data, we address whether smokers perceive mortality risks from this source differently from non-smokers. We find that those who have smoked at some point in their life have significantly higher perceived arsenic mortality risks than those who have never smoked, on average. We also find that the sample group of current smokers has higher average perceived arsenic mortality risks than those who have quit smoking. We model the decision to treat water for arsenic and find some evidence that current smokers are less likely to engage in this mitigating behavior than are ex-smokers or non-smokers even though their perceived risk is higher. We infer that smokers are either less risk averse or have a higher rate of time preference than non-smokers and ex-smokers. (JEL I0, D81, Q53)

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