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Do current levels of air pollution kill? The impact of air pollution on population mortality in England


  • Katharina Janke
  • Carol Propper
  • John Henderson


The current air quality limit values for airborne pollutants in the UK are low by historical standards and are at levels that are believed not to harm health. We assess whether this view is correct. We examine the relationship between common sources of airborne pollution and population mortality for England. We use data at local authority level for 1998–2005 to examine whether current levels of airborne pollution, as measured by annual mean concentrations of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter less than 10 µm in diameter (PM10) and ozone, are associated with excess deaths. We examine all‐cause mortality and deaths from specific cardiovascular and respiratory causes that are known to be exacerbated by air pollution. The panel nature of our data allows us to control for any unobserved time‐invariant associations at local authority level between high levels of air pollution and poor population health and for common time trends. We estimate multi‐pollutant models to allow for the fact that three of the pollutants are closely correlated. We find that higher levels of PM10 and ozone are associated with higher mortality rates, and the effect sizes are considerably larger than previously estimated from the primarily time series studies for England. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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  • Katharina Janke & Carol Propper & John Henderson, 2009. "Do current levels of air pollution kill? The impact of air pollution on population mortality in England," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(9), pages 1031-1055, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:18:y:2009:i:9:p:1031-1055
    DOI: 10.1002/hec.1475

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Bailey, Roy E. & Hatton, Timothy J. & Inwood, Kris, 2016. "Atmospheric Pollution and Child Health in Late Nineteenth Century Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 10428, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    15. Dolores de la Mata & Carlos Felipe Gaviria Garces, 2019. "Exposure to Pollution and Infant Health: Evidence from Colombia," CINCH Working Paper Series 1902, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
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