Toxic exposure in America: estimating fetal and infant health outcomes
Linda T.M. Bui
We examine the effect of exposure to toxic releases that are tracked by the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) on county-level infant and fetal mortality rates in the United States between 1989-2002. We find significant adverse effects of TRI concentrations on infant mortality rates, but not on fetal mortality rates. In particular, we estimate that the average county-level decrease in aggregate TRI concentrations saved in excess of 25,000 infant lives from 1989-2002. Using a value of life of $1.8M - $8.7M, the savings in lives would be valued at $45B - $217.5B. We also find that the effect of toxic exposure on health outcomes varies across pollution media: air pollution has a larger impact on health outcomes than either water or land. And, within air pollution, releases of carcinogens are particularly problematic for infant health outcomes. We do not, however, find any significant effect on health outcomes from exposure to two criteria air pollutants -- PM10 and ozone.
We examine the effect of toxic exposure on U.S. infant and fetal mortality rates between 1989 and 2002 from toxic pollution released by facilities reporting to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). Unlike previous studies, we control for toxic pollution from mobile sources and from non-TRI reporting facilities. We find significant adverse effects of TRI exposure on infant mortality. There is evidence that health effects vary across media: air and water having a larger impact than land pollution. And, within air, we find that releases of carcinogens are particularly problematic for infant health outcomes. We estimate that the average county-level decreases in TRI concentrations between 1988 and 2002 saved in excess of 13,800 infant lives.
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