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Adopting Federal Approaches

for Assessing Health Impacts

+ Laura Gladson, Kevin Cromar, Anna Weshner-Dunning

Abstract

Air quality regulations are intended to reduce adverse impacts to human health and the environment. Because efforts to improve air quality are not without cost, the U.S. EPA  conducts cost­‐benefit analysis to assess the health and economic impacts of air pollution abatement policies. Under the current EPA administration, it is expected that responsibility for environmental regulation will increasingly shift to state governments, some of which have little experience in conducting health and economic assessments as part of the rulemaking process. Utilizing real‐world air pollution data in conjunction with health risk estimates derived from the epidemiological literature, a scientific survey was created to assess whether localvaluations of improved air quality can be effectively estimated using federal cost‐benefit analysis methods. Results from both high and low pollution cities found that median valuations for improved air quality from survey responses were of similar magnitude to valuations used in federal cost‐benefit analysis, suggesting federal methods may be suitable for use at the local level. These methods can be augmented with information regarding local  preferences; for example, a majority of the study population was unwilling to accept reduced energy bill costs in exchange for higher pollution levels in their communities. In the absence  of state‐specific approaches, states are encouraged to adopt existing federal policy assessment tools and to fully consider the health impacts of air pollution as part of their own  regulatory review processes. 

 

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Laura Gladson (M.S.) is a Ph.D. candidate in New York University's Environmental Health Sciences department and a researcher with the Health, Environment, and Policy program at the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management.

Kevin Cromar, Ph.D., is a program director at the Marron Institute of Urban Management and an Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine and Population Health at New York University Grossman School of Medicine.

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