Health costs of PM

A recent scientific study has made new estimates of the marginal social cost per tonne of air pollutant emitted, focussing on the health damage caused by excessive levels of PM2.5 in the air. The pollutants covered are the inert species of primary PM (i.e. elemental carbon and fugitive dust) and the inorganic PM2.5 precursors (i.e. SO2, NOx and NH3).

Based on 2005 emission levels, the seasonal-average costs in the United States were estimated at US$ 88 000-130 000/tonne PM2.5; 14 000-24 000/t SO2; 3’800-14 000/t NOx; and 23 000-66 000/t NH3. The aggregated annual cost amounted to more than US$ 1 000 billion, of which 330 billion for PM2.5; 320 billion for SO2; 210 billion for NOx; and 160 billion for NH3.

The study: “Public health costs of primary PM2.5 and inorganic PM2.5 precursor emissions in the United States.” By J. Heo, P.J. Adams and H.O. Gao. Published in Environmental Science & Technology, 6 May 2016.

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