WIT Press

Economic Evaluation Of Air Pollution Impacts On Human Health: An Overview Of Applied Methodologies


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

181 - 192




337 kb


C. Silveira, M. Lopes, P. Roebeling, J. Ferreira, S. Costa, J. P. Teixeira, C. Borrego, A. I. Miranda


Air pollution is a worldwide problem with broadly known harmful effects on health and environment. A great research challenge lies in quantifying the intensity of these adverse effects as well as the associated external costs. To this end, several methodologies involving exposure-response relationships and economic evaluation of externalities have been developed. A literature review of existing methodologies to estimate air pollution impacts on human health and subsequent external costs has been performed aiming to identify strengths and major gaps in current knowledge. The most common practice is to estimate health impacts taking into account morbidity (disability-adjusted life years due to episodes of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases) and mortality (e.g. years of life lost due to lung cancer) indicators. For the quantification of the resulting external costs, a monetary valuation of the extent of damage, grounded in treatment/remediation costs, is applied.

Notwithstanding the significant efforts to improve the economic evaluation of air pollution impacts, there is some controversy on damage cost estimates. For example, the monetary valuation is not a straightforward procedure as many of the impacts have no market value. In addition, it is increasingly recognized that willingness-to-pay approaches are needed to assess the value attributed to avoid human health impacts and damages. This paper describes the approach developed within the context of the ongoing MAPLIA research project to assess the costs related with air pollution impacts on health in a Portuguese urban area, and to be used in the MAPLIA integrated decision support system for air quality management.


air pollution, damage, health impacts, external costs, willingness-topay