Improving the assessment of water related health impacts: evidence from coastal waters in Portugal

F. Machado, S. Mourato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Many of the most popular marine recreational sites throughout the globe are affected by water pollution, which imposes welfare losses on virtually millions of people. Since some leisure activities like swimming involve direct human contact with water, part of these losses take the form of increased health risks. The available evidence suggests that the costs of marine recreational water pollution can be significant. However, the empirical literature has mainly concentrated on angling, whereas evidence on beach use, by far the most important activity, is extremely scarce. Furthermore, very few economic studies have considered explicitly the health risks of bathing in polluted marine waters and none attempted to separate out those risks from other benefits of marine water quality improvements. This paper uses contingent valuation and contingent ranking techniques to evaluate the multiple benefits of improving the quality of marine recreational waters at the Estoril Coast (Portugal). Among other findings, it is concluded that, despite the fact that people perceive the health risks involved in swimming in polluted beaches reasonably well, those risks only account for a relatively small fraction of the costs of water pollution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-41
Number of pages1
JournalWorking Paper - Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment
Issue numberGEC 99-09
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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