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Sustainable use of arsenic-removing sand filters in Vietnam: psychological and social factors


Tobias, Robert; Berg, Michael (2011). Sustainable use of arsenic-removing sand filters in Vietnam: psychological and social factors. Environmental Science & Technology, 45(8):3260-3267.

Abstract

Elevated arsenic concentrations in drinking water pose a health threat to millions of people. Although point-of-use sand filters provide an effective technical solution for mitigating arsenic exposure, the actual reduction in health risk also depends on psychological factors that influence behaviors related to this device. For example, acquiring a sand filter must be preferred to competing options for investing effort and money and, once installed, the users must regularly maintain the filters. These key behaviors of sustainable use are related to psychological factors, such as problem awareness, benefits and costs, social and affective influences, and the perception of practical difficulties. This study investigated the sustainable use of arsenic-removing sand filters in Vietnam. Based on questionnaire surveys, data were gathered in 319 rural households and analyzed with regression models. Psychological factors explained significant variance in the investigated key behaviors. Significant factors included perceived improvements in water healthiness and taste, monetary costs, social norms, and affective influences. In questions with open answers, interviewees mentioned various practical problems, particularly those related to the inflexibility of the device and the effort of changing the sand. Interestingly, many interviewees operate the sand filters for removing iron from the water but are unaware of problems with arsenic.

Abstract

Elevated arsenic concentrations in drinking water pose a health threat to millions of people. Although point-of-use sand filters provide an effective technical solution for mitigating arsenic exposure, the actual reduction in health risk also depends on psychological factors that influence behaviors related to this device. For example, acquiring a sand filter must be preferred to competing options for investing effort and money and, once installed, the users must regularly maintain the filters. These key behaviors of sustainable use are related to psychological factors, such as problem awareness, benefits and costs, social and affective influences, and the perception of practical difficulties. This study investigated the sustainable use of arsenic-removing sand filters in Vietnam. Based on questionnaire surveys, data were gathered in 319 rural households and analyzed with regression models. Psychological factors explained significant variance in the investigated key behaviors. Significant factors included perceived improvements in water healthiness and taste, monetary costs, social norms, and affective influences. In questions with open answers, interviewees mentioned various practical problems, particularly those related to the inflexibility of the device and the effort of changing the sand. Interestingly, many interviewees operate the sand filters for removing iron from the water but are unaware of problems with arsenic.

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16 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:15 April 2011
Deposited On:20 Nov 2015 16:13
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:33
Publisher:American Chemical Society (ACS)
ISSN:0013-936X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1021/es102076x
PubMed ID:21443220

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