The Environmental Protection Agency continuously conducts benefit-cost analyses to examine whether lower pollution standards result in health benefits that outweigh the cost of such regulations. The largest of the measured benefits is generally attributable to human mortality and morbidity impacts, often surpassing 80% of overall benefits. CEEP affiliates have conducted several studies to measures these effects. For example, in late 2018, there was a push to relax radiation limits and there is an ongoing discussion whether doing so will result in health costs. Moreover, researchers question whether or not lowering the carbon monoxide standard will actually result in health benefits.

There have been several lawsuits alleging that glyphosate has negative health impacts. In a new working paper, CEEP affiliate Soares shows how the change in glyphosate use that came with the expansion of soybeans in Brazil had measurable effects on infant mortality.

Glyphosate impacts child mortality

CEEP researcher Almond and co-authors have shown that Swedish birth cohorts that were subjected to radiation following the Chernobyl disaster have lower high-school grades and graduation rates two decades later. The authors show that the effect scales with the radiation exposure across Sweden, which was influenced by wind direction and rainfall (see left graph for cesium concentration across Europe).

Radiation cloud over Europe

CEEP researcher Schlenker and former Ph.D. student Walker utilize airport network delays to isolate the effect of carbon monoxide (CO) pollution on health outcomes. Los Angeles airport is the single largest point source for CO pollution in California. Events at the airports on the East Coast (e.g., JFK) lead to flight delays that ultimately increase runway congestion of taxiing airplanes at Los Angeles airport on the same day. Areas downwind from the airport see an increase in CO pollution levels as well as an increase in the number of people going to the hospital for respiratory and heart problems on the same day. The above shows the effect of 1000 minutes of airplane taxi time on CO pollution levels around the airport in parts per billion. The airport is located at the center, while areas to the right are downwind and areas to the left are upwind.

Pollution Plume around airports