New study examines mortality costs of air pollution in US | 1/21/2020 | Staff
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A team of University of Illinois researchers estimated the mortality costs associated with air pollution in the U.S. by developing and applying a novel machine learning-based method to estimate the life-years lost and cost associated with air pollution exposure.

Scholars from the Gies College of Business at Illinois studied the causal effects of acute fine particulate matter exposure on mortality, health care use and medical costs among older Americans through Medicare data and a unique way of measuring air pollution via changes in local wind direction.

Researchers—Tatyana - Deryugina - Nolan - Miller - David

The researchers—Tatyana Deryugina, Nolan Miller, David Molitor and Julian Reif—calculated that the reduction in particulate matter experienced between 1999-2013 resulted in elderly mortality reductions worth $24 billion annually by the end of that period. Garth Heutel of Georgia State University and the National Bureau of Economic Research was a co-author of the paper.

"Our goal with this paper was to quantify the costs of air pollution on mortality in a particularly vulnerable population: the elderly," said Deryugina, a professor of finance who studies the health effects and distributional impact of air pollution. "Understanding how air pollution affects mortality, health care use and medical costs is essential for crafting efficient environment policies because outside factors such as a person's preexisting health conditions can make it challenging to accurately estimate the causal effects of pollution on health."

% - Medicare - Population - Pollution - Shocks

About 25% of the elderly Medicare population was vulnerable to acute pollution shocks, according to the researchers.

"Our analysis shows that the most vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries are those who suffer from chronic conditions and have high health care spending," said Reif, a professor of finance and a faculty member of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. "We estimate that members of the most vulnerable group—those with a life expectancy of less than one year—are over 30 times more likely to die from pollution...
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