The Costs and Benefits of Preventing Lead Exposure: Putting Economics into the Picture
Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)
May 7, 2014
As a society, we often make choices of what we can afford. However, these choices are often made without explicit consideration of the tradeoffs between costs and benefits since costs can be hidden or not fully understood. This scenario is particularly common in decisions regarding environmental exposures that may result in diseases and dysfunctions because those exposures involve uncertainties, hidden costs, and limited tools to consider those costs. Although there are efforts to weigh costs and benefits at the federal level (e.g., Office of Management and Budget), these calculations are limited and seldom invoked in local decision making. Lead is one of the best understood environmental toxins, yet our understanding of the costs and benefits of prevention are limited, and we often do not consider the economic cost of the health effects attributable to these exposures. In this session, we began unwrapping systematically the costs to society associated with lead, a ubiquitous environmental contaminant. We then presented a feasible approach to identifying an economically viable lead-abatement strategy at the community level.
- The Social Costs of Lead (150KB) - Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, Ph.D.
- The Costs of Lead Exposure Prevention through Local Housing Interventions (1MB) - Katrina Smith Korfmacher, Ph.D.
Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, Ph.D., is an associate professor of economics at Amherst College. Her research focuses on public health and the social impacts of environmental pollution, malpractice and physician behavior, factors influencing judicial decision making, and other topics in applied microeconomics. She is particularly interested in areas of health and inequality, and she currently is studying the effects of environmental toxicants on social behavior, as well as embarking on new projects in law and economics.
Katrina Smith Korfmacher, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester, and she also directs the Community Outreach and Engagement Core of U. Rochester’s Environmental Health Sciences Center. As a policy scientist, her research addresses the role of both science and community groups in the policy process, and she is particularly interested in how groups generate, access, and use information. She participates in many Rochester-based partnerships and boards relating to environmental health, including the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning, the Rochester Healthy Homes Partnership, the Water Education Collaborative, the Pollution Prevention Institute, and the Center for Environmental Initiatives.
For More Information
Lead and Your Health (1MB)
This factsheet provides an overview of lead: where it is found, how it affects children and adults, and how to prevent exposure.
National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH)
The NCHH is dedicated to creating healthy and safe homes for children. It brings the public health, housing, environmental, and regulatory communities together to combat disease and injuries caused by hazards in the home.
Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning (CPLP)
Founded in 2000, the CPLP is an education and advocacy organization composed of nearly 100 individuals and community organizations dedicated to eliminating childhood lead poisoning in Monroe County, New York.
- Kennedy BS, Doniger AS, Painting S, Houston L, Slaunwhite M, Mirabella F, Felsen J, Hunt P, Hyde D, Stich E. 2014. Declines in elevated blood lead levels among children, 1997-2011. Am J Prev Med 46(3):259-264.[Abstract ]
- Korfmacher KS, Hanley ML. 2013. Are local laws the key to ending childhood lead poisoning? J Health Polit Policy Law 38(4):757-813.[Abstract ]
- Korfmacher KS, Ayoob M, Morley R. 2012. Rochester’s lead law: evaluation of a local environmental health policy innovation. Environ Health Perspect 120(2):309-315.[Abstract ]
- Gould E. 2009. Childhood lead poisoning: conservative estimates of the social and economic benefits of lead hazard control. Environ Health Perspect 117(7):1162-1167.[Abstract ]
- Muennig P. 2009. The social costs of childhood lead exposure in the post-lead regulation era. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 163(9):844-849.[Abstract ]
- Tsai PL, Hatfield TH. 2011. Global benefits from the phaseout of leaded fuel. J Environ Health 74(5):8-14.[Abstract ]
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