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Costs of vehicle-induced air pollution

When I worked on transport sector externality issues recently  I became aware of the issue of the impact of air pollution from vehicles on human health.  Concern with this issue has subsided a lot over recent years because of improved emissions performance by vehicles.  Most attention gets focused on traffic congestion issues and road accident costs. In fact the health concerns from vehicle remain severe particularly for children as this study by Christopher R. Knittel, Douglas Miller, and Nicholas J. Sanders shows.  Its worth reading in full but I extract a crucial segment:

“In our preferred specification, a one-unit decrease in PM10 (around 13% of a standard deviation) saves roughly 18 lives per 100,000 births. This represents a decrease in the mortality rate of around 6%. This is consistent with the findings of prior research on ambient particulate matter, and suggests that even at todays lower levels are substantial health gains to be made by reducing both ambient pollution and traffic congestion”.

Update: There is an extended discussion of this argument at Larvatus Prodeo.

Hat Tip DP


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