Toxic Exposure in America: Estimating Fetal and Infant Health Outcomes

58 Pages Posted: 26 May 2009 Last revised: 6 Feb 2010

See all articles by Nikhil Agarwal

Nikhil Agarwal

Harvard University

Chanont Banternghansa

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Linda T. Bui

Brandeis University

Date Written: May 2009

Abstract

We examine the effect of exposure to toxic releases that are tracked by the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) on county-level infant and fetal mortality rates in the United States between 1989-2002. We find significant adverse effects of TRI concentrations on infant mortality rates, but not on fetal mortality rates. In particular, we estimate that the average county-level decrease in aggregate TRI concentrations saved in excess of 25,000 infant lives from 1989-2002. Using a value of life of $1.8M - $8.7M, the savings in lives would be valued at $45B - $217.5B. We also find that the effect of toxic exposure on health outcomes varies across pollution media: air pollution has a larger impact on health outcomes than either water or land. And, within air pollution, releases of carcinogens are particularly problematic for infant health outcomes. We do not, however, find any significant effect on health outcomes from exposure to two criteria air pollutants -- PM10 and ozone.

Suggested Citation

Agarwal, Nikhil and Banternghansa, Chanont and Bui, Linda T.M., Toxic Exposure in America: Estimating Fetal and Infant Health Outcomes (May 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w14977. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1408897

Nikhil Agarwal

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Chanont Banternghansa

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis ( email )

411 Locust St
Saint Louis, MO 63011
United States

Linda T.M. Bui

Brandeis University ( email )

Mailstop 021
Waltham, MA 02454-9110
United States

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