Risk-cost-benefit analysis of atrazine in drinking water from agricultural activities and policy implications

A. A. Tesfamichael
A. Caplan
J. J. Kaluarachchi, Utah State University


This study provides an improved methodology for investigating the trade-offs between the health risks and economic benefits of using atrazine in the agricultural sector by incorporating public attitude to pesticide management in the analysis. Regression models are developed to predict finished water atrazine concentration in high-risk community water supplies in the United States. The predicted finished water atrazine concentrations are then used in a health risk assessment. The computed health risks are compared with the total economic surplus in the U.S. corn market for different atrazine application rates using estimated demand and supply functions developed in this work. Analysis of different scenarios with consumer price premiums for chemical-free and reduced-chemical corn indicate that if the society is willing to pay a price premium, risks can be reduced without a large reduction in the total economic surplus and net benefits may be higher. The results also show that this methodology provides an improved scientific framework for future decision making and policy evaluation in pesticide management.