Skip Navigation

Your Environment. Your Health.

Controlling urban air pollution: a benefit-cost assessment

Environmental Health Economic Analysis Annotated Bibliography

Details

Research article Cost-benefit analysis (CBA)
Authors
Krupnick AJ and Portney PR
Journal
Science
Summary
This cost-benefit analysis evaluated proposed air quality controls for the US and the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and determined that the costs of proposed new controls were found to exceed the benefits by a considerable margin. Study findings suggested that it may make economic sense to implement air pollution control greatly in some areas and less so in others.
Population
Not available

Health Outcomes

  • Mortality/morbidity
  • respiratory outcomes (asthma, coughing, shortness of breath)

Environmental Agents

List of Environmental Agents:

  • Air pollutants (ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs))

Source of Environmental Agents:

  • VOC emissions in nonattainment areas

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source

Type:

  • Cost-benefit analysis (CBA)

Cost Measured:

  • Costs for VOC and ozone control/reduction (cost for reducing the volatility of gasoline)
  • cost for use of alternative fuels (e.g., methanol) to power fleet vehicles
  • costs for the South Coast plan in Los Angeles (costs for application of pollution control technologies
  • cost for substitution of less polluting solvents in facilities
  • costs for implementation of new controls in electric power plants
  • costs for control/reduction of fuel consumption, vehicle usage, and dust blown from roads/parking lots
  • costs for programs that aim to eliminate hydrocarbons from solvents, coatings, and motor vehicles

Potential Cost Measures:

  • Costs of the South Coast plan to residents (e.g., time losses and inconvenience)
  • nonpecuniary costs (e.g., maintenance program costs)

Benefits Measures:

  • Acute health benefits associated with reductions in ground level ozone (as a result of controlling VOC emissions), such as — reduced incidence of asthma attacks, coughing, chest discomfort, pain on deep inspiration
  • reduced number of days of restricted activity
  • reduced acute morbidity
  • health benefits associated with the South coast plan, such as — reduced risk of premature mortality, reduced risk of acute morbidity, reduced illness, frequency of respiratory symptoms

Potential Benefits:

  • Reduced damage to exposed crops and other vegetation
  • reductions in prevalence of chronic illness
  • improvements in forests or agricultural output in rural regions that might result from VOC control in urban areas
  • reductions in damage to rubber and other products exposed to ozone

Location:

  • Urban/metropolitan nonattainment areas in the United States
  • Los Angeles, California

Models Used:

  • EPA trajectory models (used for predictions of peak ambient concentrations of ozone)
  • county-level model (used to determine the acute health benefits associated with estimated reductions in VOC emissions in nonattainment areas)

Methods Used:

  • The authors presented point estimates of costs and benefits for proposed efforts of improving air quality (reducing ambient ozone concentrations) at the national level. The authors — 1) used VOC emissions data from the Office of Technology Assessment about predicted air quality changes, EPA trajectory models to predict peak ambient concentrations of ozone, and a county level model to determine the acute health benefits associated with the estimated VOC emission reductions in nonattainment areas; 2) combined area-specific data on air quality improvements and population with dose-response functions based on epidemiologic and clinical studies relating ambient ozone concentrations to various human health effects and estimated the reduced incidence of these health effects accompanying a 35% reduction in VOC, and aggregated these estimates to obtain national estimates; 3) used willingness to pay estimates to convert predicted changes in physical health into economic benefits; and 4) presented point estimates of costs and benefits for proposed efforts of the South Coast air quality plan for Los Angeles.

Sources Used:

  • Catching our breath — next steps for reducing urban ozone (Office of Technology Assessment, 1989); Review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone — assessment of scientific and technical information (EPA OAQPS, 1987); Economic impacts of the draft air quality management plan proposed by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (1988); The benefits of air pollution control in California (1986); additional sources cited in publication

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source

Citation:

  • Krupnick AJ and Portney PR. 1991. Controlling urban air pollution: a benefit-cost assessment. Science.

Pubmed:

DOI: (Not available)

NIEHS Funding: (Not available)

Other Funding: (Not available)