Air Pollution and Health Effects: A Study of Respiratory Illness Among Children in Santiago, Chile
19 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: March 1998
Environmental management has benefits, not just costs, and analysis can help focus efforts to get more benefits out of each dollar. Among children in Santiago, Chile, reduced concentrations of small dust particles (PM10) will reduce a range of symptoms, from coughs to bronchitis.
Ostro, Eskeland, Feyzioglu, and Sanchez estimate dose-response functions for respiratory disease among children based on data from public clinics in Santiago. They find that respiratory disease among Santiago's children is significantly affected by air pollution, measured as PM10 (small dust particles). The effect, for children under 15 (and subgroups), is robust to the inclusion of a wide range of covariates and alternative specifications.
In some model specifications, ozone, another measure of pollution, is also found to affect respiratory illness.
Internationally, effects on morbidity have typically been found in cross-section studies, or in prospective studies following a panel of predisposed children, such as asthmatics.
This study is important in finding such an effect for a larger population of children with more general characteristics-hence more useful for cost-benefit analyses of air pollution control.
The study, and a companion study of premature mortality, add to much-needed evidence on the benefits of pollution control in developing countries. The results fit well in a growing literature on dose-response functions for health effects, and so adds support to a method of transferring does response functions when local research is not available. An earlier study using this method found that modestly estimated health benefits exceeded pollution control costs in Santiago by more than 50 percent.
This paper - a product of Public Economics, Development Research Group - was initiated by operational support to an environmental study in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. The study had additional funding from the Bank`s Research Support Budget under the research project Air Pollution and Health Effects in Santiago, Chile (RPO 678-48). The authors may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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