Tracking the little black 'rain' clouds : an enviro-economic analysis of ambient air pollution effects on pediatric asthma

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Agriculture


Epidemiological studies routinely demonstrate a positive correlation between ambient air pollution and respiratory aggravation. Potential benefits from federal regulations to economic and physical health of individuals, however, are not well understood by either law makers or voters. As the EPA implements new regulations targeting SO ₂ emissions, robust empirical analysis can frame the policy issue as one of statistical and economic analysis. The Asthma Call Back Survey extension of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System collects detailed data on symptoms, intervention methods, and demographics of individuals with asthma as well as associated ZIP-level spatial identification. The EPA's Acid Rain emissions database records detailed emission data for every power plant in the country. Together, these data can be used to link detailed asthma information with nearby plant emission levels, providing the foundation for an in-depth enviro-economic analysis of SO ₂ effects on pediatric asthma aggravation and potential long term human capital investment. Using a zero-inflated negative binomial regression technique, the study estimates the effect that pollution has on days of missed school the provides insight into educational effects of emissions and presents the issue as one important to child development. The results and policy-oriented sensitivity analysis demonstrate the clear benefits of coal power plant pollution reduction, and suggest policy and education solutions which can mitigate negative asthma outcomes and promote educational attainments.




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