Recent Increases in Air Pollution: Evidence and Implications for Mortality
After declining by 24.2% from 2009 to 2016, annual average fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the United States in counties with monitors increased by 5.5% between 2016 and 2018. Increases occurred in multiple census regions and in counties that were in and out of attainment with National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). We explore channels through which the increase may have occurred including increases in economic activity, increases in wildfires, and decreases in Clean Air Act enforcement actions. The health implications of this increase in PM2.5 between 2016 and 2018 are significant. The increase was associated with 9,700 additional premature deaths in 2018. At conventional valuations, these deaths represent damages of $89 billion.
The authors thank Severin Borenstein, Akshaya Jha, Brian Kovak, Daniel Nagin, Joseph Shapiro, Lowell Taylor, Xiao Wang and participants in the HILS seminar at CMU. Karen Clay acknowledges financial support provided by Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Karen Clay & Nicholas Z. Muller & Xiao Wang, 2021. "Recent Increases in Air Pollution: Evidence and Implications for Mortality," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, vol 15(1), pages 154-162.