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."

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