We have known for decades that ozone contributes to adverse health effects in children, and that reducing concentrations therefore results in health benefits. Only recently has significant attention been paid to the economic value of those benefits. Increasingly, legislative and regulatory bodies seek information on the economic benefits of environmental protection, especially in contexts where substantial improvements have already occurred. Recent advances in health research provide the necessary concentration-response functions to support economic valuation of an important adverse health effect in children: school absences. In this context, assessment of the economic benefits of reducing school absences as a result of attaining the state ozone standard provides information that could help to establish more concretely the benefits to be expected from attainment of the state ambient air quality standard. Professor Hall will present the results of her study that estimated the number of days of all illness-related absences and the number of days of respiratory-illness related absences, the economic loss to families of absences, and the economic loss resulting from respiratory-related hospitalizations and asthma-related emergency room visits. Differences in the number of these effects associated with improvements in air quality are for the interval 1990-92 to 1997-99. To highlight the decline in ozone levels across the decade, results are also reported for a rolling three-year interval from 1997-99 across that period. The population cohorts are children aged 5-18 residing in the South Coast Air Basin of Southern California (SoCAB). Results are reported for the basin overall and for each of the four counties in the basin. The benefits of attaining the one-hour state standard are also estimated. Dr. Victor Brajer is an Associate Professor of Economics at California State University, Fullerton. His area of specialization is environmental and natural resource economics, and he has extensive experience in such timely issues as: air pollution and its effects on human health; water allocation in the southwestern United States; and the economics of recycling. He has worked on a variety of research projects, and as a consultant, for such organizations as: the American Lung Association; the South Coast Air Quality Management District; the Bay Area Air Quality Management District; the California Air Resources Board; the World Bank; and the cities of San Diego, California, and Houston, Texas.
Dr. Brajer's current research deals with assessing and analyzing the benefits of environmental improvements. He has participated in major research grants studying the health-related benefits of meeting air quality standards in the Los Angeles Basin, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the greater Houston area of Texas. He has also written numerous publications such as "Valuing the Health Benefits of Clean Air" in Science, and The Value of Clean Air: A Survey of Economic Benefit Studies from 1990-1996, a major report prepared for the American Lung Association.
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