Impacts of Being Downwind of a Coal-Fired Power Plant on Infant Health at Birth: Evidence from the Precedent-Setting Portland Rule

69 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2015

See all articles by Muzhe Yang

Muzhe Yang

Lehigh University - Department of Economics

Shin-Yi Chou

Lehigh University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: November 2015

Abstract

We conduct the first study on the impacts of prenatal exposure to a uniquely identified large polluter, a coal-fired power plant located near the border of two states, on the birth outcomes of the downwind state. For mothers who live as far as 20 to 40 miles away but downwind of the power plant, being exposed to power plant emissions, in particular sulfur dioxide, during the first month of pregnancy could increase the likelihood of having full-term babies but with low birth weight, an indicator of slow fetal growth, by as much as 42 percent. This adverse impact could be driven by reactive sulfur species-induced intrauterine oxidative stress, arising from maternal exposure to emissions of sulfur dioxide, whose travelling from the emission source to the downwind region has been confirmed in the Portland Rule. In light of EPA’s continual efforts in regulating power plant emissions, our study is aimed at broadening the scope of cross-border pollution analysis by taking into account adverse infant heath impacts from upwind polluters, which can burden the downwind states disproportionately.

Suggested Citation

Yang, Muzhe and Chou, Shin-Yi, Impacts of Being Downwind of a Coal-Fired Power Plant on Infant Health at Birth: Evidence from the Precedent-Setting Portland Rule (November 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21723. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2691241

Muzhe Yang (Contact Author)

Lehigh University - Department of Economics ( email )

621 Taylor Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
United States

Shin-Yi Chou

Lehigh University - Department of Economics ( email )

620 Taylor Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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