Health Effects and Costs of Southern California Smog
This post comes from a comprehensive 2011 analysis by Jane Hall and Victor Brajer of Cal State University Fullerton, and Fred Lurmann, in Contemporary Economic Policy, Oct. 1, 2011, Volume 29, No. 4, entitled Valuing Health Effects: The Case of Ozone and Fine Particles in Southern California. DOI 10.1111/j.1465-7287.2010.00204.x
During 2005-7, with ozone exceeding limits 30 days a year, during this three year period caused 1.1 million school absence days costing $106 million, 121,000 asthma attacks costing $6.5 million, and 825 hospital admissions costing $33 million.
During that period, the South Coast Basin averaged 31.7 days of orange or red pollution levels, described in previous posts. In the last 5 years, there were 22.4 days of yellow and red pollution levels. Present days of smog are still 71% of that period. In 2005, the California population was about 36 million, and is now about 40 million, an 11% growth. Health care costs have risen, as well as the funding for students per day of attendance. The costs in the study are still indicative of present costs.
In a study of San Joaquin Valley and the South Coast Basin, pollution caused more than 3,800 premature deaths a year. For ozone and PM2.5, the cost are $28 billion a year. For the San Joaquin Valley, the cost is $1,600 per person, or $6 billion a year. For the South Coast Basin, the cost is $1,250 per person, or $22 billion a year.
For each year, there were about 2,000 new cases of adult onset chronic bronchitis, and 16,000 cases in children. Adults had 3.5 million days of reduced activity. There were 141,000 asthma attacks, and 2,800 hospital admissions. There were 1.26 million days of school absence, and 470,000 lost days of work. There were 2 million days of respiratory symptoms in children, and 2,800 emergency room visits.
In Los Angeles County, the number of pollution deaths a year is twice that from auto accidents.
Minority and poor communities suffered most.
They concluded that spending as much on preventing pollution would be the smartest option for society. The potential plan by Gov. Brown to incentivize 5 million Zero Emission Vehicles would only cost $2.5 billion.
Knowing the human suffering, health, and financial costs provides great justifications for all of our efforts to clean our air, and our lungs. Even those not seriously affected enough for medical treatment suffer different kinds of ailments and reduced activities.