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Your Environment. Your Health.

Hidden cost of U.S. agricultural exports: particulate matter from ammonia emissions

Environmental Health Economic Analysis Annotated Bibliography


Research article Cost analysis (CA)
Paulot F and Jacob DJ
Environ Sci Technol
This cost analysis quantified the cost of NH3 and resulting PM2.5 emissions associated with agricultural food exports in the United States. The authors found that NH3 emissions associated with food export increases the exposure of the U.S. population to PM2.5, and they estimated the valuation of increased premature mortality associated with PM2.5 from food export to be $36 billion per year (in US dollars). These findings suggest that eliminating NH3 emissions from food export would achieve greater health benefits than the reduction of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for PM2.5 from 15 to 12 μg/m-3.
Not available

Health Outcomes

  • Mortality (premature mortality)

Environmental Agents

List of Environmental Agents:

  • Air pollutants (ammonia (NH3), particulate matter (PM2.5/fine))

Source of Environmental Agents:

  • PM2.5 and NH3 emissions via agricultural food exports

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source


  • Cost analysis (CA)

Cost Measured:

  • Mortalities
  • annual health costs of PM2.5 from food export
  • direct gross revenue associated with agricultural exports

Potential Cost Measures:

  • Other agricultural impacts such as: eutrophication, loss of biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions from production and transportation

Benefits Measures: (Not available)

Potential Benefits: (Not available)


  • United States

Models Used:

  • MASAGE model was used to calculate agricultural emissions of NH3
  • GEOS-Chem global chemical transport model (CTM) was used to calculate the impact of a change in ammonia emissions on PM2.5

Methods Used:

  • The authors quantified the costs of NH3, and resulting PM2.5 emissions, associated with US food export by coupling a model of agricultural sources of NH3 with a chemical transport model. The authors — 1) used a chemical transport model (GEOS-Chem global CTM) to calculate the sensitivity of PM2.5 to NH3 emissions from agricultural exports; 2) used the MASAGE model to calculate agricultural emissions of NH3; 3) used commodity-specific export fraction by weight to estimate the NH3 emissions associated with food export; and 4) estimated the annual health costs of PM2.5 from food export using the willingness to pay (WTP) and value of a statistical life (VSL) method.

Sources Used:

  • US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (2013); Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) FAOSTAT, Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Statistical Database (2009); US EPA National Emission Inventory (2005); additional sources cited in publication

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source


  • Paulot F and Jacob DJ. 2014. Hidden cost of U.S. agricultural exports: particulate matter from ammonia emissions. Environ Sci Technol.
  • Pubmed
  • DOI

NIEHS Funding: (Not available)

Other Funding: (Not available)

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