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Review of Health Costs of Road Vehicle Emissions

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journal contribution
posted on 06.06.2017, 01:09 authored by Segal, Leonie
The use of motor vehicle generates a range of external effects. There is a growing body of research aimed at quantification of the external effects, in physical units and dollars, as well as considering the policy implications. The NRTC has commissioned a review of the health impacts of motor vehicle emissions (and noise). The review has been completed by Leonie Segal, public policy economist and senior research fellow with the Centre for Health Program Evaluation. The results of the review are reported in this paper. Despite the uncertainty in the data and knowledge about the relationships between important parameters, some conclusions about the effect of motor vehicle emissions on health, can confidently be drawn. Health effects are found to be minor, reflecting the relatively clean air quality of Australian cities. Health effects derive from respiratory illness attributed to high ozone days and small excess mortality from carcinogens of 10-18 case per year. The effect of particulates could not be determined. Due to the small number of estimated cases of excess morbidity and mortality, the total estimated value of health impacts is less than $50 per annum. In conclusion, this review of the pertinent studies from the environmental health literature, costs of illness data and studies to estimate the health costs of road vehicle emissions, suggests that the health costs to Australia from road vehicle emissions are most likely to fall within the range of $20 and $100 million, with $50 million suggested as a reasonable point estimate. Over time, as further evidence concerning the relationship between pollutants and health is obtained a revisions of these estimates may be appropriate.


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Centre for Health Program Evaluation

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