Environmental Psychology

Environmental Risk Perceptions: Article Analysis of Contaminated Water

Water and food are the two most basic necessities required to live.  Without food, humans will starve to death, however life can be prolonged by having access to drinking water.  An individual who has drinking water and no food can survive for up to three weeks, but without water, survival rate drops significantly to a few days (World Health Organization, 2015).  Water is vital to organs, digestion, and muscle health (World Health Organization, 2015).    Having such an emphasized need of water, it would seem as though safe drinking water is the primary concern for humans.  However, unsafe drinking water has become an epidemic throughout the world resulting in major illness and death among the human race.

The well-being of humans is dependent on safe drinking water in the aspect of quality and availability as well as its managed preservation (World Health Organization, 2015).  Water contamination leads to a wide range of diseases which often lead to death (World Health Organization, 2015).  Regulating naturally occurring chemicals contained in the drinking water could potentially reduce a large number of reported illnesses, especially in infants and young children (World Health Organization).  Due to weaker immune systems, children are more susceptible to contracting water-borne illness because the higher trace of naturally occurring chemicals in drinking water may be too high for the child resulting in diarrhea that, at times results in death (World Health Organization, 2015).  Improving the quality of drinking water could potentially reduce diarrhea incidence alone by twenty-fiver percent and infant mortality by sixty-five percent across the world (World Health Organization, 2015).

Article 1

Lucas, Cabral, and Colford conducted a review of several studies finding contaminated water, detrimental to the health of water consumers, is a public health threat in the developed world (Lucas PJ, Cabral C, Colford JM Jr, 2011).  It was reported that consumer households risk consuming water contaminated by chemicals or pathogens holds the potential of major illness, including the possibility of death (Lucas PJ, Cabral C, Colford JM Jr, 2011).  Some water supplies tested positive for fecal matter which may cause a diarrheal disease  known to lead to death and especially susceptible to children under the age of five and those who have compromised immune systems, resulting in 78% of deaths occurring in the developing world (Lucas PJ, Cabral C, Colford JM Jr, 2011).  Drinking water was also found to contain chemical contamination with highest health risk contaminants being arsenic and fluoride, although chemical contamination presents a smaller globalization risk than fecal matter (Lucas PJ, Cabral C, Colford JM Jr, 2011).

Lucas, Cabral, and Colford declare there is interventions that can be implemented which will reduce the diseases attributed to contaminated drinking (Lucas PJ, Cabral C, Colford JM Jr, 2011).  It is suggested that interventions of water quality through community management at the main source or directly in the consumer home could reduce childhood diarrhea mobidity alone by 42% (Lucas PJ, Cabral C, Colford JM Jr, 2011).   However, community management monitoring produces a high cost believed to be the reason for the failed attempts of providing safe water into the consumer home (Lucas PJ, Cabral C, Colford JM Jr, 2011).  Promoting the testing of water and disseminatin the contamination levels to consumers may bring about the awareness of the necessity of a behavior change of water management at the community level as well as the household level (Lucas PJ, Cabral C, Colford JM Jr, 2011).  Changing the water management behavior is expected to an increase in health and lower morbidity rates caused by contaminated water (Lucas PJ, Cabral C, Colford JM Jr, 2011).

Article 2

Hunter, MacDonald, and Carter confront the water controversy in this article that depicts the different types of contamination found in drinking water and the potential effects on health (Hunter, MacDonald, & Carter, 2010).   The article aims to gather a commitment from government bodies to ensure improved water conditions with an adequate supply to the population in an effort to decrease health risks and deflate infant mortality rate caused by unsafe drinking water (Hunter, MacDonald, & Carter, 2010).  There is a direct reference to the diarrhea diseases and its link to malnutrition, poor education which directly results in hindering a child from reaching maximum potential later in life (Hunter, MacDonald, & Carter, 2010).  Additionally the article points out the detrimental effects of organic and inorganic chemicals contaminating water, the highest alarming is the arsenic contamination found to cause cancer and skin disorders among other severe health effects (Hunter, MacDonald, & Carter, 2010).  There are also indirect health effects contaminated water causes such as hygiene and sanitation (Hunter, MacDonald, & Carter, 2010).

It has been argued that implementing improved water conditions will provide significant economic returns such as reduced healthcare costs and less time consumption working on emergency interventions as maintainence is less costly than emergencies (Hunter, MacDonald, & Carter, 2010).  Although there is an econmonic return if interventions are implemented, the cost of implementation, especially in poor areas may not be attainable and may not produce enough revenue to maintain the system causing a maintenance to be neglected (Hunter, MacDonald, & Carter, 2010).  The fact that groundwater supply is inconsistent across the globe poses an issue as adequate water supply is difficult in some areas, especially in impoverished areas who cannot afford to pay for something that has always been “free” (Hunter, MacDonald, & Carter, 2010).  Hunter, MacDonald, and Carter declare that it is imperative for the community to provide interventions for safe water as public health is at severe risk and the death toll will continue to rise (Hunter, MacDonald, & Carter, 2010).

Risk Perceptions

An environmental risk is an action that carries the potential of creating adverse effects on the physical and live environment through waste, pollution, emissions or other effects (Steg, 2013).  The risks are complex and uncertain and are many times caused by human and animal behaviors (Steg, 2013).  However, human perception varies among individuals which poses a conflict in the perception of environmental risks, or the consequences of human behavior (Steg, 2013).  Values, ethics, and morals persuade human perception therefore, an something perceived as an environmental risk to one individual may be perceived as not risky to another (Steg, 2013).  For instance, the concern of safe drinking water may not affect a wealthy community as safe water is more prominent, however, individuals in poorer communities may perceive drinking water as an environmental risk.

Both articles mandate the vitality of safe drinking water as the effect of contaminated water poses major health risks.  Contaminated water is reported to cause severe physical illness that carries the potential of death.  Both articles claim that immediate intervention is necessary to decrease infant mortality and increase health promoting children to maximize their development and potential in life.  Article one illustrates an economic return that will create profit even in poorer communities.  On the contrary, article two illustrates the potential of exorbitant cost that may not be attainable by all communities, especially in underdeveloped countries.  Article one claims that intervention is possible in all areas, even if it is established interventions at the home level.  However, article two points out that groundwater is inconsistent across the globe posing difficulty supplying safe water to all areas.  The first article emphasizes public awareness will cause motivation in the public eye to intervene and implement a decontamination system as it will improve health.  The second article declares that public and government officials along with the wealthy communities should ban together and support improvement efforts to protect the human existence.  Consistent in both articles is that the death toll will continue to rise and illness will continue to overtake our communities if uncontaminated water is not provided to the population.

Environmental stressors leading to the pandemic of contaminated water are both organic and inorganic.  Fecal matter found in water is caused by animals or plumming failure ((Lucas PJ, Cabral C, Colford JM Jr, 2011).  Chemicals used in factories may leak into the groundwater and go unnoticed without consistent monitoring (Lucas PJ, Cabral C, Colford JM Jr, 2011).  Natural disasters have also proven to be environmental stressors as they hold potential for destruction that may carry through groundwater (Lucas PJ, Cabral C, Colford JM Jr, 2011).  There are infinite causes of the contamination making intervention difficult without constant monitoring (Lucas PJ, Cabral C, Colford JM Jr, 2011).

Personal Perception

Water is the most important necessity in life.  It serves as a humans lubricant to keep them functioning properly.  Supplying a  human body with contaminated water slowly breaks them down filling their body with disease internally and externally.  It almost seems as if it is turning into a form of population control.  There are interventions available that could be implemented to supply safe water to communities, however, it appears that the wealthy are the only ones reaping benefit of the interventions.  Economic return may not be as high as desired, but a monetary value cannot be put on any life and for that reason alone, more effort should be put into saving the life of the environment.  A child is the key to the future.  Forcing that child to drink and bathe in a substance that is known to cause major debilitating illness hinders their development and brain growth further hindering them from reaching their maximum potential in the future (Hunter, MacDonald, & Carter, 2010).  Allowing anyone to live in preventable disease should be a crime therefore the government bodies should mandate safe drinking water.  The return of safe drinking water is much higher than saving a little bit of money today.


Hunter PR, MacDonald AM, Carter RC (2010) Water Supply and Health. PLoS Med 7(11): e1000361. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000361

 Lucas PJ, Cabral C, Colford JM Jr (2011) Dissemination of Drinking Water Contamination Data to Consumers: A Systematic Review of Impact on Consumer Behaviors. PLoS ONE 6(6): e21098. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021098

Steg, L. (2013). Environmental psychology: An introduction. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

World Health Organization. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/ceh/risks/en/


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