Perceptions of environmental pollution are affected by attitudes about the particular environment being polluted. When toxic chemicals invade residential environments, Americans perceive multiple threats. Besides possible health risks and financial losses, such pollution represents an attack on the important cultural institutions of home and homeownership. Research in several communities where toxics have affected household drinking water illuminates specific meanings of home in American culture, and demonstrates that these ideas shape perceptions of pollution that occurs where people live. Personnel from government environmental agencies, public health officials, and engineers who work with communities experiencing pollution problems need to be more sensitive to the cultural assumptions and values that shape people's perceptions of pollution. Greater attention to cultural attributes of home and homeownership would enhance efforts at prevention and resolution of toxic problems in residential environments.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.