In the study, which looked at houses along Narragansett Bay, an estuary opening to the Atlantic Ocean on the Rhode Island coast, researchers tracked how housing prices rose and fell over 21 years in conjunction with changes in the bay’s water quality.
Tingting Liu, a data analyst with the US Environmental Protection Agency who led the study, found that extreme algal blooms—events that bring unpleasant odors, water discoloration, and fish kills—have the biggest effect on housing prices.
Spread over an area of 380 square kilometers, Narragansett Bay is the largest estuary in New England. With the second highest population density in the United States, and ongoing urbanization, Rhode Island has struggled to keep the bay clean. More than 100 cities across Rhode Island and Massachusetts are in the bay’s watershed, and much of the bay’s pollution comes from urban runoff and sewage treatment facilities.
Photo: NOAA/WIkimedia Commons (CC BY0-SA 2.0)