Ancillary human health benefits of improved air quality resulting from climate change mitigation

Background

Greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation policies can provide ancillary benefits in terms of short-term improvements in air quality and associated health benefits. Several studies have analyzed the ancillary impacts of GHG policies for a variety of locations, pollutants, and policies. In this paper we review the existing evidence on ancillary health benefits relating to air pollution from various GHG strategies and provide a framework for such analysis.

Methods

We evaluate techniques used in different stages of such research for estimation of: (1) changes in air pollutant concentrations; (2) avoided adverse health endpoints; and (3) economic valuation of health consequences. The limitations and merits of various methods are examined. Finally, we conclude with recommendations for ancillary benefits analysis and related research gaps in the relevant disciplines.

Results

We found that to date most assessments have focused their analysis more heavily on one aspect of the framework (e.g., economic analysis). While a wide range of methods was applied to various policies and regions, results from multiple studies provide strong evidence that the short-term public health and economic benefits of ancillary benefits related to GHG mitigation strategies are substantial. Further, results of these analyses are likely to be underestimates because there are a number of important unquantified health and economic endpoints.

Conclusion

Remaining challenges include integrating the understanding of the relative toxicity of particulate matter by components or sources, developing better estimates of public health and environmental impacts on selected sub-populations, and devising new methods for evaluating heretofore unquantified and non-monetized benefits.

Ancillary human health benefits of improved air quality resulting from climate change mitigation

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Authors: 
Michelle L. Bell
Devra L Davis
Luis A Cifuentes
Alan J Krupnick
Richard D Morgenstern
George D Thurston
Journal: 
Environmental Health 7, p. 41-58