This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Three essays on toxic chemical releases, house values, health and labor productivity




Ho, Sa

Type of Degree



Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology


The Toxics Release Inventory is a public access database established under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) to protect public health, safety and the environment from toxic chemical hazards. In 2002, industrial facilities in the US were required to report their annual environmental releases of approximately 650 toxic chemicals to the Environmental Protection Agency. Around 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the environment in 2002 from industrial facilities. These toxic substances have the potential to impact morbidity and mortality in a significant way. The City of Anniston in Calhoun County, Alabama is one of many places that have to deal with multiple environmental hazards. In the mid-1990s Anniston discovered that the city had been heavily contaminated with PCBs. Then, in the late-1990s, the US Army began the construction of Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility to dispose of chemical weapons at the Anniston Army Depot, which is a Superfund site and generating a significant amount of toxic chemicals. To make the situation worse, lead contamination in Anniston was discovered in 2000, when EPA conducted tests for PCBs. Impacts of toxic chemicals on human health may impose several types of costs to the society. The first type of these costs is the depreciation of values of residential properties in the area with high levels of toxic chemicals. The second type is the ultimate direct and indirect costs associated with health impacts of toxic substances. The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate the impacts that toxic chemicals pose on the society. Specifically, we analyze how toxic substances affect property values, individual’s health status and labor productivity losses. A number of economic models including hedonic price model and health capital models as well as econometric models including Full Information Maximum Likelihood model, generalized instrumental variable model and count model, are employed for the analysis.