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Your Environment. Your Health.

The impact of pollution on worker productivity

Environmental Health Economic Analysis Annotated Bibliography


Research article Cost analysis (CA)
Zivin JG and Neidell M
The American Economic Review
This study analyzed and reported the impact of ozone pollution on worker productivity for a cohort of agricultural workers employed by a large farm in the Central Valley of California. Investigators found that a 10 ppb decrease in average ozone levels increases worker productivity by 5.5 percent. Furthermore, they determined that impacts on worker productivity became statistically significant at 42-46 ppb, a concentration well below federal ozone air quality standards of 75 ppb. This study is the first to rigorously assess effects of the environment on worker productivity, and results indicate that ozone, even at levels below current air quality standards in most of the world, has significant negative impacts on worker productivity. Authors suggest that strengthening of regulations on ozone pollution would yield additional benefits with avoided exposure.
Agricultural workers (male and female) employed by a large farm

Health Outcomes

  • Not available

Environmental Agents

List of Environmental Agents:

  • Air pollutants (ozone (O3))

Source of Environmental Agents: (Not available)

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source


  • Cost analysis (CA)

Cost Measured:

  • Worker productivity

Potential Cost Measures: (Not available)

Benefits Measures: (Not available)

Potential Benefits: (Not available)


  • Central Valley, California

Models Used: (Not available)

Methods Used:

  • The authors analyzed the impact of ozone pollution on worker productivity for a cohort of agricultural workers. They — 1) derived data on daily worker productivity from an electronic payroll system used by a large farm in the Central Valley of California ( 1600 workers over the course of 155 days); 2) obtained environmental and air quality data conducted the analysis of ozone effects on worker productivity at the daily level; 3) merged the worker data with environmental conditions based on readings from air quality and meteorology stations in the California air monitoring network; and 4) used regression models to relate mean ozone concentrations (during the typical workday) to worker productivity.

Sources Used:

  • Air quality and meteorological information system (California EPA, California Air Resources Board, 2012); Orange Enterprises (OE) payroll collection data from the Payroll Employee Tracking (PET) Tiger software system (worker dataset); additional sources cited in publication

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source


  • Zivin JG and Neidell M. 2012. The impact of pollution on worker productivity. The American Economic Review.
  • Pubmed
  • DOI

NIEHS Funding:

  • R21ES019670

Other Funding:

  • Property and Environment Research Center
  • Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
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