Campus: CSU Fullerton -- January 03, 2002
Environmental Economists Study Benefits of Reduced Pollution
After years of tightened environmental regulation,just how much better
is Southern California's air quality? What benefits areresidents, particularly
children, receiving from the stiffer laws?
Cal State Fullerton's Jane Hall and Victor Brajer, nationally recognized
experts on environmental economics, were recently awarded a $22,000 California
Air Resources Board contract to answer those questions. Their research
will estimate what the economic gains have been in terms of the improved
health of the region's K-12 children.
"While it has been known for decades that elevated levels of tropospheric
ozone contribute 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 health
benefits," noted Hall, professor of economics. She serves on the
Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board Council on Clean
Air Compliance Analysis, the EPA's Health and Ecological Effects Subcommittee
and the National Academies of Science Committee on Air Quality Management.
This study, Hall added, will address the often-asked but seldom-answered
question: "Is the money spent on environmental regulation worthwhile?"
Brajer, associate professor of economics, and Hall are studying children
ages 5-18 in four counties: Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside.
The researchers are using a combination of days of absences and days of
symptoms of illness to establish a value or cost of children being ill
and the loss of time for the adults who care for children too ill to attend
school. They also will assess the retrospective benefits of reducing ozone
from 1990 to 1999 levels on an annual basis.
In previous studies, Hall and Brajer have evaluated whether air quality
regulations adversely affect the state's economy and the cost of related
health effects from ozone in the air.
"All of our work to date has shown significant benefits from more
healthful air," said Hall, "and that we have achieved substantial
gains in air quality along with a robust and growing economy."