Benefits of clean air Amendments “outweigh costs by four-to-one”
A US EPA study claims the health and environmental benefits arising from Amendments to the Clean Air Act save four times the cost of their implementation.
The report predicts that during the coming decade the Clean Air Act Amendments will prevent thousands of premature deaths and millions of asthma attacks related to air pollution, as well as a range of human health and environmental effects.
For those benefits which could be given a monetary value, EPA estimates that in 2010 the benefits of Clean Air Act programs will total about $110 billion. This estimate represents the value of avoiding increases in illness and premature death which would have prevailed without the clean air standards and provisions required by the Amendments.
By contrast, the cost analysis conducted for the study indicates that the costs of achieving these health and ecological benefits could be around $27 billion.
The report notes that beyond the quantified human health benefits, there are a wide range of additional human health and environmental benefits which scientists and economists cannot yet quantify and express in dollar terms. These include the control of carcinogenic air-borne substances as well as benefits to crops and ecosystems of reducing pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter.
Using computer modelling in conjunction with recent emissions and cost data, the study projects that in the year 2010 the Amendments of 1990 will prevent 23,000 premature deaths, and avert over 1,700,000 incidences of asthma attacks and aggravation of chronic asthma.
In addition, in 2010, the Amendments are expected to prevent 67,000 incidences of chronic and acute bronchitis, 91,000 occurrences of shortness of breath, 4,100,000 lost work days, and 31,000,000 days in which Americans would have had to restrict activity due to air pollution related illness.
The study also projects that 22,000 respiratory-related hospital admissions would be averted, as well as 42,000 cardiovascular hospital admissions, and 4,800 emergency room visits for asthma.
The report was the subject of extensive peer review by independent panels of economists, scientists,
and public health experts.
The study is the second in a series of EPA cost/benefit Reports to Congress examining the effects of the Clean Air Act on the U.S. economy, public health, and the environment. The first study, a retrospective assessment released in October 1997, also found that the benefits of 1970 to 1990 clean air programmes significantly exceeded costs.
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