Examining the Role of Social Feedbacks and Misperception in a Model of Fish-Borne Pollution Illness

  • Michael YodzisEmail author
Conference paper


Pollution-induced illnesses are caused by toxicants that result from human activity and should be entirely preventable. However, social pressures and misperceptions can undermine the efforts to limit pollution, and vulnerable populations can remain exposed for decades. We present a human-environment system model for the effects of water pollution on the health and livelihood of a fishing community. The model includes dynamic social feedbacks that determine how effectively the population recognizes the injured and acts to reduce its pollution exposure. Our work is motivated by a historical incident from 1949 to 1968 in Minamata, Japan where methylmercury effluent from a local factory poisoned fish populations and humans who ate them. We will discuss the conditions that allow for the outbreak of a pollution-induced epidemic, and explore the role that misperception plays in allowing it to persist.


Social Concern Pollution Exposure Fish Catch Harvest Rate Social Feedback 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of GuelphGuelphCanada

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