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Predicting public concern regarding toxic substances in the environment.

The purpose of this research was to identify the variables that increase concern about the health, environmental contamination, and economic consequences of toxic substances in the environment. A mail survey was sent to a New York State sample, and a 66% response was obtained. Seven indices were developed from specific concerns about toxic substances in the environment including, among others, exposure, health effects, pollution, and economic consequences. Stepwise regression analysis was conducted for each concern index. The results suggest that the number of information sources regarding environmental issues was a strong predictor of concern in nearly all models. Other variables that were repeatedly found to be important contributors to the models were years of education, attitudes about government involvement in private industry, knowledge of epidemiology and the scientific method, and the perceived proximity to sources of potential contamination. Unlike other research, women and mothers of sick children did not make large contributions to the model.