The effect of risk perception on public preferences and willingness to pay for reductions in the health risks posed by toxic cyanobacterial blooms

Hunter, Peter D.; Hanley, Nick; Czajkowski, Mikołaj; Mearns, Kathryn; Tyler, Andrew N.; Carvalho, Laurence; Codd, Geoffrey A.. 2012 The effect of risk perception on public preferences and willingness to pay for reductions in the health risks posed by toxic cyanobacterial blooms. Science of the Total Environment, 426. 32-44.

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Mass populations of toxin-producing cyanobacteria are an increasingly common occurrence in inland and coastal waters used for recreational purposes. These mass populations pose serious risks to human and animal health and impose potentially significant economic costs on society. In this study, we used contingent valuation (CV) methods to elicit public willingness to pay (WTP) for reductions in the morbidity risks posed by blooms of toxin-producing cyanobacteria in Loch Leven, Scotland. We found that 55% of respondents (68% excluding protest voters) were willing to pay for a reduction in the number of days per year (from 90, to either 45 or 0 days) that cyanobacteria pose a risk to human health at Loch Leven. The mean WTP for a risk reduction was UK£9.99–12.23/household/year estimated using a logistic spike model. In addition, using the spike model and a simultaneous equations model to control for endogeneity bias, we found the respondents' WTP was strongly dependent on socio-demographic characteristics, economic status and usage of the waterbody, but also individual-specific attitudes and perceptions towards health risks. This study demonstrates that anticipated health risk reductions are an important nonmarket benefit of improving water quality in recreational waters and should be accounted for in future cost–benefit analyses such as those being undertaken under the auspices of the European Union's Water Framework Directive, but also that such values depend on subjective perceptions of water-related health risks and general attitudes towards the environment.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 3 - Managing Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Environment > BD - 3.4 - Provide science-based advice ...
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 3 - Science for Water Management > WA - 3.4 - Develop novel and improved methods to enable the sustainable management of freshwaters and wetlands
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Watt
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This document is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Science of the Total Environment. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Science of the Total Environment, 426. 32-44. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.02.017
Additional Keywords: blue-green algae, lake, environmental economics, recreation, water quality, recreational waters, spike model, endogeneity bias, catchment management
NORA Subject Terms: Economics
Date made live: 28 Aug 2012 14:58 +0 (UTC)

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