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Estimating the health effects of air pollutants : a method with an application to Jakarta


  • Ostro, Bart


To develop efficient strategies for pollution control, it is essential to assess both the costs of control and the benefits that may result. These benefits will often included improvements in public health, including reductions in both morbidity and premature mortality. Until recently, there has been little guidance about how to calculate the benefits of air pollution controls and how to use those estimates to assign priorities to different air pollution control strategies. The author describes a method for quantifying the benefits of reduced ambient concentrations of pollutants (such as ozone and particulate matter) typically found in urban areas worldwide. The author then applies the method to data on Jakarta, Indonesia, an area characterized by little wind, high population concentration (8 million people), congested roads, and ambient air pollution. The magnitude of the benefits of pollution control depend on the level of air pollution, the expected effects on health of the pollutants (dose-response), the size of the population affected and the economic value of these effects. The results for Jakarta suggest that significant benefits result from reducing exposure to both outdoor and indoor air pollutants. For example, if annual concentrations of particulate matter were reduced to the midpoint of the World Health Organization guideline (and former U.S. ambient standard), the estimates indicate a reduction per year of 1,400 premature deaths (with a range of 900 to 1,900), 49,000 emergency room visits, 600,000 asthma attacks, 7.6 million restricted activity days (including work loss), 124,000 cases of bronchitis in children, and 37 million minor respiratory symptoms. In the case of Jakarta, the methodology suggests that reducing exposure to lead and nitrogen dioxide should also be a high priority. An important consequence of ambient lead pollution is a reduction in learning abilities for children, measured as I.Q loss. Apart from that, reducing the proportion of respirable particles can reduce the amount of illness and premature mortality. Clearly, air pollution represents a significant public health hazard to residents of Jakarta and other cities consistently exposed to high levels of air pollution, such as Bangkok, Mexico City, and Santiago, Chile.

Suggested Citation

  • Ostro, Bart, 1994. "Estimating the health effects of air pollutants : a method with an application to Jakarta," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1301, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1301

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ostro, Bart D., 1983. "The effects of air pollution on work loss and morbidity," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 371-382, December.
    2. Krupnick, Alan J. & Harrington, Winston & Ostro, Bart, 1990. "Ambient ozone and acute health effects: Evidence from daily data," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-18, January.
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    4. Portney, Paul R. & Mullahy, John, 1986. "Urban air quality and acute respiratory illness," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 21-38, July.
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    1. Jesse Schwartz & Robert Repetto, 2000. "Nonseparable Utility and the Double Dividend Debate: Reconsidering the Tax-Interaction Effect," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 15(2), pages 149-157, February.
    2. Dasgupta, Susmita & Lucas, Robert E. B. & Wheeler, David, 1998. "Small manufacturing plants, pollution, and poverty : new evidence from Brazil and Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2029, The World Bank.
    3. Hirota, Keiko, 2007. "Policy for better Air Quality in Asia: Proposal for a Policy Evaluation Method for four ASEAN Countries," MPRA Paper 15081, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 04 Oct 2007.
    4. World Bank, 2008. "Tajikistan : Country Environmental Analysis," World Bank Other Operational Studies 8123, The World Bank.
    5. Deepa Menon Choudhary & Amit Garg & P.R Shukla, 2009. "Assessing Policy Choices For Managing SO2 Emisions From Indian Power Sector," Working Papers id:1957, eSocialSciences.
    6. Cinzia Di Novi, 2007. "An Economic Evaluation of Life-Style and Air-pollution-related Damages: Results from the BRFSS," JEPS Working Papers 07-001, JEPS.
    7. Quah, Euston & Boon, Tay Liam, 2003. "The economic cost of particulate air pollution on health in Singapore," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 73-90, February.
    8. World Bank, 2007. "Republic of Peru - Environmental Sustainability : A Key to Poverty Reduction in Peru," World Bank Other Operational Studies 7761, The World Bank.
    9. Budy Resosudarmo, 2002. "Indonesia's Clean Air Program," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(3), pages 343-365.
    10. Zaim, Katalin Kovari, 1997. "Estimation of health and economic benefits of air pollution abatement for Turkey in 1990 and 1993," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(13), pages 1093-1097, November.
    11. Brajer, Victor & Mead, Robert W. & Xiao, Feng, 2006. "Valuing the health impacts of air pollution in Hong Kong," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 85-102, February.
    12. Alan fnKrupnick & Kenneth fnHarrison & Eric fnNickell & Michael fnToman, 1996. "The value of health benefits from ambient air quality improvements in Central and Eastern Europe: An exercise in benefits transfer," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 7(4), pages 307-332, June.
    13. Ouoba, Youmanli, 2017. "Economic sustainability of the gold mining industry in Burkina Faso," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 194-203.
    14. Pearce, David & Crowards, Tom, 1996. "Particulate matter and human health in the United Kingdom," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(7), pages 609-619, July.
    15. Cinzia Di Novi, 2010. "The influence of traffic-related pollution on individuals' life-style: results from the BRFSS," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(11), pages 1318-1344.
    16. World Bank, 2008. "Nepal - Country Environmental Analysis : Strengthening Institutions and Management Systems for Enhanced Environmental Governance," World Bank Other Operational Studies 7996, The World Bank.
    17. Mahapatra, Diptiranjan & Shukla, Priyadarshi & Dhar, Subash, 2012. "External cost of coal based electricity generation: A tale of Ahmedabad city," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 253-265.
    18. Resosudarmo, Budy P. & Thorbecke, Erik, 1996. "The impact of environmental policies on household incomes for different socio-economic classes: The case of air pollutants in Indonesia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 83-94, May.
    19. Eskeland, Gunnar S. & Jimenez, Emmanuel & Lili Liu & DEC, 1994. "Energy pricing and air pollution : econometric evidence from manufacturing in Chile and Indonesia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1323, The World Bank.


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