The Effectiveness of Phosphate Bans

12 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2020

See all articles by David Keiser

David Keiser

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Date Written: January 1, 2020


Nutrient pollution is one of the leading causes of surface water quality impairment in the US and globally. This paper highlights three important considerations for recent policies that target the use of phosphates in household and commercial products. First, US production of phosphates for these products and other industrial uses has fallen from a high of 32 percent in 1964 to less than 5 percent in recent decades. Phosphates for agricultural use comprise the remaining 95 percent. Thus, regulations that overwhelmingly target household and industrial uses over agriculture are limited in their ability to address the larger nutrient problem. Second, behavioral responses to variation in the spatial and temporal aspects of these policies reduce their effectiveness. Third, interactions with regulations at wastewater treatment facilities determine the extent to which reductions in phosphate at the household and commercial levels pass through as reductions in phosphate loadings to waterways.

Keywords: nutrient pollution, phosphate bans, environmental regulation, emissions leakage

JEL Classification: Q50, Q53, Q58, H11, H23, D23

Suggested Citation

Keiser, David, The Effectiveness of Phosphate Bans (January 1, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

David Keiser (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts Amherst ( email )

Resource Economics
Amherst, MA 01003
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics