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Your Environment. Your Health.

Application of an original wildfire smoke health cost benefits transfer protocol to the western US, 2005-2015

Environmental Health Economic Analysis Annotated Bibliography

Details

Research article Cost analysis (CA)
Authors
Jones BA, Berrens RP
Journal
Environmental Management
Summary
In this cost analysis study, the authors provided the first-ever time series estimates of PM2.5 wildfire smoke costs across all-cause mortality and several morbidity measures for the Western United States from 2005-2015. Results showed over the 2005-2015 period, that wildfire smoke exposure led to 1,921 excess adverse health outcomes, resulting in $1.8 billion in morbidity and mortality costs (averaging $165 million per year). The authors conclude that these findings have important implications for policy, and they encourage other researchers to use the benefits transfer protocol as a method for calculating economic costs associated with wildfire smoke.
Population
Population of the Western United States (ages not specified)

Health Outcomes

  • Respiratory outcomes (asthma, pneumonia)
  • Mortality (all-cause mortality)

Environmental Agents

List of Environmental Agents:

  • Air pollutants (wildfire smoke, particulate matter (PM2.5/fine))

Source of Environmental Agents:

  • Wildfires

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source

Type:

  • Cost analysis (CA)

Cost Measured:

  • Morbidity costs associated with wildfires (emergency room (ER) visits and hospital admissions (HA) for all respiratory illnesses, asthma, other respiratory illnesses, HA for pneumonia)
  • Costs for all-cause mortality associated with wildfires
  • Wildfire-specific WTP value
  • VSL for mortality health impacts

Potential Cost Measures:

  • Willingness to pay values for each specific morbidity outcome
  • Cost of illness values (deemed not theoretically appropriate for wildfire smoke health costs)

Benefits Measures: (Not available)

Potential Benefits: (Not available)

Location:

  • Western United States (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico)

Models Used:

  • Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program-Community Edition (BenMAP-CE) (US EPA)

Methods Used:

  • The authors describe the utility and process of applying a benefits transfer protocol for assessing costs associated with wildfire smoke. They used this protocol to measure smoke costs across mortality and several morbidity measures for the Western United States over 2005 through 2015. The authors — 1) used BenMAP-CE to implement the benefits transfer protocol; 2) collected air pollution exposure estimates from United States EPA Air Quality System (AQS) and Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) monitored data to be consistent with prior smoke cost analyses; 3) identified smoke event periods (periods of increased smoke due to wildfires) using daily NOAA/NESDIS Hazard Mapping System (HMS) smoke products to identify wildfire smoke plume dates; 4) constructed the counterfactual (estimated level that the pollutant level would have been if there were no fire) by calculating a 95th percentile moving-average of daily median PM2.5 levels for the five years prior to the study year; 5) used previously published concentration-response (CR) values to input into BenMAP-CE as health impact functions; 6) applied population estimates from the United States Census Bureau to calculate health impacts; 7) applied a wildfire-specific willingness to pay unit value to estimate all morbidity health impacts; and 8) used a United States EPA value of a statistical life (VSL) estimate to estimate mortality health impacts.

Sources Used:

  • Air pollution monitored daily data for 2015 including PM2.5 levels from United States EPA Air Quality System (AQS) data, and measured PM2.5 from Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) data; smoke event periods identified using daily US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) NESDIS Hazard Mapping System (HMS) Fire and Smoke Product to identify wildfire smoke locations; counterfactual (i.e., base level) constructed as a 95th percentile moving average for the 5 years prior to the study year (Jones et al., 2016); PM2.5 concentration-response (CR) functions estimated for wildfire seasons (Reid et al., 2016a; Delfino et al., 2009; Johnston et al. 2012); wildfire-specific willingess to pay (WTP) unit value (Jones et al., 2016); value of a statistical life estimate (United States EPA); time-series graphic of acres burned in the Western United States from the National Interagency Fire Center; additional sources cited in the publication

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source

Citation:

  • Jones BA, Berrens RP. 2017. Application of an original wildfire smoke health cost benefits transfer protocol to the western US, 2005-2015. Environmental Management.
  • Pubmed
  • DOI

NIEHS Funding: (Not available)

Other Funding: (Not available)

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