Water pollution may have bigger health impacts than previously thought – Healthcare Economist

At least that is according to an NBER working paper by DiSalvro and Hill (2023). The abstract is below:

Previous research in the US has found negative health effects of contamination when it triggers regulatory violations. An important question is whether levels of contamination that do not trigger a health-based violation impact health. We study the impact of drinking water contamination in community water systems on birth outcomes using drinking water sampling results data in Pennsylvania. We create an overall water quality index and an index specific to reproductive health. We focus on the effects of water contamination for births not exposed to regulatory violations. Our most rigorous specification employs mother fixed effects and finds changing from the 10th to the 90th percentile of water contamination (among births not exposed to regulatory violations) increases low birth weight by 12% and preterm birth by 17%.

NBER Bulletin on Health has a more detailed summary as well.



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