International Expert Workshop on the Analysis of the Economic and Public Health Impacts of Air Pollution: Workshop Summary. (Workshop Summaries)

By Bell, Michelle L.; Davis, Devra et al. | Environmental Health Perspectives, November 2002 | Go to article overview

International Expert Workshop on the Analysis of the Economic and Public Health Impacts of Air Pollution: Workshop Summary. (Workshop Summaries)


Bell, Michelle L., Davis, Devra, Cifuentes, Luis, Cohen, Aaron, Gouveia, Nelson, Grant, Lester, Green, Collin, Johnson, Todd, Rogat, Jorge, Spengler, Jack, Thurston, George, Environmental Health Perspectives


Forty-nine experts from 18 industrial and developing countries met on 6 September 2001 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, to discuss the economic and public health impacts of air pollution particularly with respect to assessing the public health benefits from technologies and policies that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Such measures would provide immediate public health benefits, such as reduced premature mortality and chronic morbidity, though improved local air quality. These mitigation strategies also allow long, term goals--for example, reducing the buildup of GHG emissions--to be achieved alongside short-term aims, such as immediate improvements, in air quality, and therefore benefits to public health. The workshop armed to foster research partnerships by improving collaboration and communication among various agencies and researchers; providing a forum for presentations by sponsoring agencies and researchers regarding research efforts and agency activities; identifying key issues, knowledge gaps, methodological shortcomings, and research needs; and recommending activities and initiatives for research collaboration, and communication. This workshop summary briefly describing presentations made by workshop participants and the conclusions or, three separate working groups: economics, benefits transfer, and indoor air quality issues and susceptible populations; and development and transfer of dose-response relationships and exposure models in developing countries. Several common themes emerged from the working group sessions and subsequent discussion. Key recommendations include the need for improved communication and extended collaboration, guidance and support for researchers, advances in methods, and resource support for data, collection, assessment, and research. Key words: air pollution, economic valuation, human health, morbidity, mortality. Environ Health Perspect 110:1163-1168 (2002). [Online 26 September 2002] http://ehpnet1.niehs.nib.gov/docs/2002/110p1163-1168bellabstract.html

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Technologies and-policies that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions also can promote social welfare and other environmental benefits unrelated to global warming, which may be explicitly intended or may incidentally arise as a consequence of mitigation policies (Davis et al. 2000). Such mitigation measures include increased energy efficiency, low emissions cooking stoves, improved land-use planning, electric and hybrid vehicles, renewable energy such as wind and solar power, reductions in agricultural production of methane, energy tax policies, and less carbon-intensive fuels (Metz et al. 1999, 2002).

One of the most important co-benefits, or ancillary benefits, associated with GHG mitigation is fewer health effects due to local air pollution. For example, certain policies that reduce the burning of fossil fuels decrease emissions of C[O.sub.2] and other GHGs, but also reduce the concentrations of ambient air pollutants that cause adverse health impacts, such as premature mortality, increased hospital admissions for respiratory and other causes, and increased frequency of asthma attacks. Therefore, such GHG reduction strategies can offer immediate public health benefits in addition to their long-term effects on climate change mitigation, in both industrialized and developing nations. Although most discussion of these GHG-reducing policies and technologies focuses on their potential to deter longer term climate change effects, such as temperature increase and sea-level rise, such measures can also achieve considerable short-term benefits of improving air quality and thereby public health. Thus, there is a need to improve and refine the methods by which these short-term impacts on public health and air pollution are quantified and assigned an economic value.

Most research on the ancillary benefits of GHG mitigation has explored the premature deaths and morbidity that could be avoided by enforcing policies that lower the levels of particulate matter in developed countries. …

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