Environmental Economics

National Damages of Air and Water Pollution

This report presents updated estimates of the national damages in 1973 of air and water pollution. Information on pollution damages heretofore scattered among numerous sources has been compiled and updated to reflect "best estimates" of the economic significance of the impacts of air and water pollution. The conceptual foundations of damage estimates are discussed. The source studies for each damage category are surveyed, and updated best estimates including a range to represent their uncertainty, are then developed. Best estimates of air pollution damages are developed for the following categories: human health, $5.7 billion; aesthetics, $9.7 billion; vegetation, $2.9 billion; and materials, $1.9 billion. A methodology for estimating human populations at risk to air pollutant levels is described. Best estimates of water pollution damages are developed for the following categories: outdoor recreation, $6.5 billion; aesthetics and ecological impacts, $1.5 billion; health damages, $0.6 billion; and production losses, $1.7 billion. The total best estimate for water pollution damages is $10.1 billion, with a range of $4.5 billion and $18.7 billion. The caveats qualifying these damage estimates are discussed. Even so, the study recognizes that tradeoffs are inherent in any decision making process and a better understanding of those tradeoffs will allow for improved decision making.

  • Keywords

    1. Benefits Analysis
    1. Benefits Analysis - Valuation
    1. Benefits Analysis - Valuation - Revealed Preference
    1. Benefits Analysis - Valuation - Cost of Damages Avoided
    Environmental Media:
    a. Air
    b. Water
    a. Air - Tropospheric
    b. Water - Surface
    Heintz, Jr., H. T.
    Hershaft, A.
    Horak, G. C.
    EPA Project Officer/ Manager:
    Waddell, Thomas E.
    Geographic Area:
    United States
    Study Purpose:
    Empirical Application
    Inventory Record #: EE-0085
  • Participating Organizations

    Research Organization:

    Enviro Control, Inc.Address: 1530 East Jefferson Street
    City: Rockville State: MD ZIP: 20852
    Phone: Fax:
    Funding Organization:
    Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Office of Health and Ecological EffectsAddress:
    City: Washington State: DC ZIP: 20460
    Phone: Fax:
  • Report Details
    Number of Pages:
    Grant/Contract #:
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    Date Linked: 05/28/2009