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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 5: Monetary valuation of the toxic impacts due to acidic deposition in Scotland

Douglas Macmillan


Douglas Macmillan* INTRODUCTION Emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) have resulted in the acidification of relatively undisturbed ecosystems in remote areas of North America and northern Europe. Although economic activity is limited in these areas, they are important spawning areas for commercially important fish species, especially salmon (Salmo salar) and for nature conservation. In the United Kingdom, for example, a recent survey of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by English Nature (Rimes 1992) has revealed acidification damage in almost one-quarter of the total area classified as an SSSI. Under the EC’s Large Combustion Plant Directive (88/609/EEC), the UK is committed to reducing emissions of SO2 (which contribute approximately two-thirds of all acidic inputs) by 60 per cent in year 2003, with further cuts agreed under the Second Sulphur Protocol of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Although the cost of meeting these pollution targets is expected to be over £600 million per year (Sliggers and Klaassen 1994), there have been few attempts to quantify the benefits of SO2 abatement. Individuals are expected to value recovery in the natural environment for a number of reasons: (i) anglers will benefit directly from healthier fish populations; (ii) other individuals will obtain indirect benefits from recovery (for example, by reading or watching TV programmes); and (iii) all individuals could derive non-use benefits. Monetary valuation of the environmental benefits of recovery from acidification must overcome three major problems. First, the relationship between SO2 emissions and environmental damage is complex and reliable dose-response functions...

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