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Managing Pollution

Economic Valuation and Environmental Toxicology

Edited by Clive L. Spash and Sandra McNally

Economists are concerned by a wide range of environmental impacts from pollutants, as they affect human welfare and not just human health. This insightful book demonstrates how economic analysis can contribute to decision making in environmental policy and discusses the theoretical limitations of economic valuation.
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Chapter 3: Calculating morbidity benefits from reducing air pollution: a Spanish case study

Richard Dubourg and María Xosé Vázquez Rodríguez


Richard Dubourg and María Xosé Vázquez Rodríguez* INTRODUCTION Air pollution issues have recently come to the forefront of discussions about environmental policy. The principal reasons for this have been twofold. The first is the emergence of a growing body of epidemiological evidence linking poor air quality to substantial numbers of premature deaths and cases of acute illness (for example, Schwartz 1994a; Pope et al. 1995). The second stems from the emergence of economic evidence indicating the high value individuals place on reducing risks of morbidity and premature mortality (for example, Viscusi 1993; Johnson et al. 1997). These two factors combine to produce high estimates of the (health) cost associated with air pollution, particularly in urban areas, and the consequent high estimates of the value of air pollution control programmes (for example, Pearce and Crowards 1996; Ostro 1994). In this chapter, we present results from one of the first economic studies of the health costs of air pollution in Spain. This uses the results of a survey, conducted in the city of Vigo, in which people are asked about the value of preventing respiratory illness. This survey employs a design specifically intended to make the results compatible with existing epidemiological ‘endpoints’ for air pollution-related morbidity. We show how the survey results can be combined with data on current air pollution levels in Vigo, and a selection of epidemiological ‘exposure-response’ relationships, to produce estimates of the morbidity costs of air pollution. It is thus possible to estimate the potential...

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