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Airports, Air Pollution, and Contemporaneous Health

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  • Wolfram Schlenker
  • W. Reed Walker

Abstract

Airports are some of the largest sources of air pollution in the United States. We demonstrate that daily airport runway congestion contributes significantly to local pollution levels and contemporaneous health of residents living nearby and downwind from airports. Our research design exploits the fact that network delays originating from large airports on the East Coast increase runway congestion in California, which in turn increases daily pollution levels around California airports. Using the component of California air pollution driven by airport congestion, we find that carbon monoxide (CO) leads to significant increases in hospitalization rates for asthma, respiratory, and heart related emergency room admissions that are an order of magnitude larger than conventional estimates: A one standard deviation increase in daily pollution levels leads to an additional $1 million in hospitalization costs for respiratory and heart related admissions for the 6 million individuals living within 10km (6.2 miles) of the 12 largest airports in California. While infants and the elderly are more sensitive to air pollution, we also find significant relationships for the adult population. The health impacts are driven by CO, not NO2 or O3, and occur at levels far below existing EPA mandates. Our results suggest there may be sizable morbidity benefits from lowering the existing CO standard.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17684.

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Date of creation: Dec 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17684

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  1. Zvi Griliches & Jerry A. Hausman, 1984. "Errors in Variables in Panel Data," NBER Technical Working Papers 0037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  3. Maximilian Auffhammer & Ryan Kellogg, 2011. "Clearing the Air? The Effects of Gasoline Content Regulation on Air Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2687-2722, October.
  4. Janet Currie & W. Reed Walker, 2009. "Traffic Congestion and Infant Health: Evidence from E-ZPass," NBER Working Papers 15413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Olivier Deschenes & Michael Greenstone & Jonathan Guryan, 2009. "Climate Change and Birth Weight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 211-17, May.
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  7. H. Spencer Banzhaf & Randall P. Walsh, 2008. "Do People Vote with Their Feet? An Empirical Test of Tiebout," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 843-63, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell, 2013. "Environment, Health, and Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 18935, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. David Desmarchelier, 2013. "Effect of pollution on the total factor productivity and the Hopf bifurcation," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(3), pages 2328-2339.
  3. Emmanuelle Lavaine & Matthew J. Neidell, 2013. "Energy Production and Health Externalities: Evidence from Oil Refinery Strikes in France," NBER Working Papers 18974, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Ziebarth, N. R.; & Schmitt, M.; & Karlsson, M.;, 2013. "The short-term population health effects of weather and pollution: implications of climate change," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 13/34, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  5. Stefano Bosi & David Desmarchelier & Lionel Ragot, 2014. "Pollution effects on labor supply and growth," EconomiX Working Papers 2014-34, University of Paris West - Nanterre la Défense, EconomiX.

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