Author

Sonia N. Aziz

Date of Award

8-2007

Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Kevin J. Boyle

Second Committee Member

Aria Amirbahman

Third Committee Member

Kathleen P. Bell

Abstract

Widespread arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh places the health of millions of Bangladeshis in jeopardy. Ninety-five percent of the population of Bangladesh is estimated to rely on groundwater for drinking purposes and naturally occurring arsenic contaminates over a fourth of the groundwater in Bangladesh. One Mitigation and avoidance of arsenic contaminated water is a complex and expensive prospect for Bangladeshi villagers. Water sources without high arsenic levels are scarce, taking a practical toll on a person's time available for work and other activities when they have to seek safe water to drink. Though the effects of chronic arsenic exposure may appear to differ between individuals, population groups and geographic areas, research suggests that children and the elderly are particularly susceptible. Since children live with parents who are the primary decision makers for sustenance, a model of decision-making linking parent health and child health outcomes is used to frame the relative valuation of child and parent health using an averting behavior model. Because the decision maker does not have deterministic knowledge of whether they or their children will be ill, drinking water choices are framed in a stochastic (state dependent) framework. Relative valuation of child health over own health reveal that even with heavy resource constraints, parents value their child's health more than twice as much as their own health. The results can help evaluate whether public health mitigation policies to reduce exposure to arsenic in drinking water are working, and examine whether factors such as children and time required for remediation have an effect on mitigation measures.

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