Beyond Regulations: Industry Voluntary Ban in Arsenic Use


Firms play a key role in pollution abatement and control by engaging in beyond-compliance actions without the force of law in voluntary programs. This study examines the effectiveness of a bilateral voluntary agreement, one type of voluntary programs, negotiated between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the pressure-treated wood industry to phase-out the use of chromated copper arsenate (CCA), a poisonous arsenic compound. Arsenic is ranked number one on the EPA's priority list of hazardous substances. Unlike a majority of earlier studies on voluntary programs, dynamic panel estimation and structural break analysis show that while a technological innovation in semiconductors is associated with arsenic use increases, the CCA voluntary agreement is associated with a reduction in arsenic use to levels not seen since the 1920s. A voluntary ban in arsenic acid by pesticide manufacturers in the agriculture sector has also contributed to arsenic reductions. Furthermore, the results suggest that environmental activism has played a role in curbing arsenic use. Increasing stakeholder pressures, as measured by membership in the Sierra Club, improves voluntary agreement effectiveness.

Full Paper

Hsueh, Lily. 2013. “Beyond Regulations: Industry Voluntary Ban in Arsenic Use.” Journal of Environmental Management 131 (December): 435–46.