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Your Environment. Your Health.

Getting cars off the road: the cost-effectiveness of an episodic pollution control program

Environmental Health Economic Analysis Annotated Bibliography


Research article Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA)
Cropper ML, Jiang Y, Alberini A and Baur P
Environmental and Resource Economics
This cost-effective analysis compared the cost of an episodic vehicle permit scheme that requires people to buy permits to drive on high ozone days with the cost of year-round ozone control in the Washington DC metropolitan area. At a low permit price ($75), the program would reduce VOCs by 39-50 tons and NOx by 33-42 tons on a high-ozone day. The cost per ozone season of achieving these reductions is approximately $9 million (2008 USD), compared to $70.4 million annually for the cost of a year-round control program that meets the same reductions as the episodic program. Results suggest that an episodic program could be a cost-effective way of reducing ozone precursors on high ozone days.
Adults (≥18 years)

Health Outcomes

  • Not available

Environmental Agents

List of Environmental Agents:

  • Air pollutants (ozone (O3))
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Nitrous oxides (NOx))

Source of Environmental Agents:

  • Mobile sources (vehicles)

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source


  • Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA)

Cost Measured:

  • Cost of purchasing a permit
  • cost per ton of emissions reduced

Potential Cost Measures: (Not available)

Benefits Measures: (Not available)

Potential Benefits: (Not available)


  • Washington DC metropolitan area

Models Used: (Not available)

Methods Used:

  • The authors examined the cost-effectiveness of an episodic pollution control program that requires people to purchase permits to drive on days when ozone levels are high. The authors — 1) surveyed over 1,300 commuters in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area to determine household characteristics and willingness to pay for a permit; 2) applied survey results to an econometric model and random effects probit model to estimate permit demand and effects of price on permit demand; 3) used probability of purchasing a permit to predict number of cars removed from the road and cost of the permit program; 4) estimated emission reductions using number of vehicles removed and average daily tailpipe emissions; and 5) used the random effects probit model to estimate the cost of the program with less than full compliance.

Sources Used:

  • Data from a survey of 1,383 Washington metropolitan area commuters used to evaluate the episodic ozone control program (survey conducted January - March of 2008 by SRBI International); vehicle ownership by household from 2000 U.S. Census data; number of passenger vehicles in Washington D.C. area from National Capital Region Transpiration Planning board (2006); additional sources cited in publication

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source


  • Cropper ML, Jiang Y, Alberini A and Baur P. 2014. Getting cars off the road: the cost-effectiveness of an episodic pollution control program. Environmental and Resource Economics.
  • Pubmed
  • DOI

NIEHS Funding: (Not available)

Other Funding: (Not available)

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