IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Cost of Reduced Visibility Due to Particulate Air Pollution From Motor Vehicles


  • Delucchi, Mark A.
  • Murphy, James
  • McCubbin, Donald R.
  • Kim, Jin


Particles and gases in the atmosphere scatter and absorb light, and thereby reduce visibility (Watson and Chow, 1994; Richards et al., 1990; Ozkaynak et al., 1985). Although natural sources of particles, such as volcanoes, can significantly degrade visibility, it generally is true that “when visibility is poor...most particles are found to be of human origin, from sources such as power plants, vehicle exhaust, biomass burning, suspended dust, and industrial activities†(Watson and Chow, 1994, p.244). Poor visibility diminishes the enjoyment of scenic vistas and makes travel hazardous1. Statistical analyses of property values (discussed below) reveal that people are willing to pay extra for houses in areas with good visibility and air quality. The particles that are most efficient at scattering light are roughly the same size as the wavelength of visible light -- about 0.5 µm (Watson and Chow, 1994; Richards et al., 1990; Ozkaynak et al., 1985). Because most particles emitted by the combustion of diesel fuel, and some particles of re-entrained road dust, are 0.5 µm ± 0.4 µm, emissions related to motor-vehicle use can significantly degrade visibility. In support of this, Trijonis (1984) has estimated that direct emissions from heavy-duty diesel vehicles in California cause 10% to 20% of the light extinction. In this report, we review some of the literature on the cost of visibility, and then develop our own estimate of the cost. For our own estimate, we select a simple hedonic model, from the meta-analysis of Smith and Huang (1995), of the relationship between the asset value of homes, levels of total suspended particulate matter (TSP), and per- capita income. Because the hedonic price of TSP undoubtedly comprises the price of visibility (as well as the price of other effects of TSP, such as bad health), and because we can relate TSP emissions to visibility, we can use this hedonic model to estimate the visibility cost of TSP emissions. Specifically, we will apply this hedonic meta-model to estimate the visibility cost of all anthropogenic TSP pollution, and of motor-vehicle TSP pollution, in every county in the U. S. in 1990.

Suggested Citation

  • Delucchi, Mark A. & Murphy, James & McCubbin, Donald R. & Kim, Jin, 1996. "The Cost of Reduced Visibility Due to Particulate Air Pollution From Motor Vehicles," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt2n15b6gw, University of California Transportation Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:uctcwp:qt2n15b6gw

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:;origin=repeccitec
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Harrison, David Jr. & Rubinfeld, Daniel L., 1978. "Hedonic housing prices and the demand for clean air," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 81-102, March.
    2. Edna T. Loehman & Sehoon Park & David Boldt, 1994. "Willingness to Pay for Gains and Losses in Visibility and Health," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 70(4), pages 478-498.
    3. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
    4. Rowe, Robert D. & D'Arge, Ralph C. & Brookshire, David S., 1980. "An experiment on the economic value of visibility," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 1-19, March.
    5. Cropper, Maureen L & Oates, Wallace E, 1992. "Environmental Economics: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 675-740, June.
    6. Dan Schendel & Derek Channon & Ari Ginsberg & N. Venkatraman, 1992. "Abstract," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(S1), pages 37-53, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Delucchi, Mark & Murphy, James & McCubbin, Donald, 2002. "The Health and Visibility Cost of Air Pollution: A Comparison of Estimation Methods," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt03s2x9xb, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.

    More about this item


    Social and Behavioral Sciences;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:uctcwp:qt2n15b6gw. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.