Environmental Economics

Air Pollution and Disease: An Evaluation of the NAS Twins, Volume V of Methods Development in Measuring Benefits of Environmental Improvements

This report uses National Academy of Sciences data on twins to examine the effects of elevated levels of sulfur dioxide and total suspended particulates on symptoms including chest pain, cough, and shortness of breath. Statistical measures used in this analysis were probit analysis and ordinary least squares. Total estimates of the savings in health care costs due to a 30 percent reduction in ambient concentrations of these two pollutants were derived and found to be substantial.

This study was part of a larger research effort that included a number of projects focusing on estimating the benefits of pollution control. Other volumes in this series of reports can be quickly accessed using the series titles listed above. These are as follows. Volume I, EE-0272A, is the Executive Summary for the entire research project. Volume II, EE-0272B, considers experimental or contingent valuation approaches to valuing air and water quality improvements, paying particular attention to the benefits of improving visibility in national parks, improving national water quality, reducing risks of exposure to hazardous waste, and reducing ambient ozone concentrations in the South Coast Air Basin. Volume III, EE-0272C, updates earlier efforts to estimate the benefits of controlling acid deposition. Volume IV, EE-0272D, addresses methods for valuing the economic impacts of air pollution on ecosystems, providing a theoretical model and an empirical illustration using contingent valuation of the condition of a forest stock.

Volumes V, VI, and VII address questions related to air pollution impacts on human health. This report is Volume V of the series. Volume VI, EE-0272F, develops a new methodology for estimating the benefits of reduced human morbidity stemming from improved air pollution control and tests that methodology using data from adult residents of St. Louis, MO. Volume VII, EE-0272G, presents a collection of three papers that assess the economic benefits of controlling pollutants, such as lead, that affect the health of children.

Finally, the original collection of studies included a non-technical discussion of recent developments in estimating the benefits of environmental improvements. A more recent version of that report is contained in the database as EE-0278A.