Distributional effects from air pollution in the United States

Distributional effects from air pollution in the United States

Seminar Abstract 

In this talk, Inês will cover two related recent/ongoing pieces of work:

1) Comparing the Health Damages from Air Pollution to the Value Added in the U.S. Economy (PNAS, 2019): We use integrated assessment models to compute economy-wide gross external damages (GED) due to premature mortality from air pollution. We note 4 key findings: First, economy-wide, GED has decreased by more than 20% from 2008 to 2014. Second, while much of the air pollution policies have focused to date on the electricity sector, damages from farms are now larger than those from utilities. Third, 4 sectors, comprising less than 20% of the national GDP, are responsible for ∼75% of GED attributable to economic activities. Fourth, uncertainty in GED estimates tends to be high for sectors with predominantly ground-level emissions because these emissions are usually estimated and not measured.

2) Fine Particulate Air Pollution from Electricity Generation in the US: Health Impacts by Race, Income, and Geography (ES&T, forthcoming): Electricity generation is a large contributor to PM2.5 air pollution. However, the demographic distribution of its resulting exposure is largely unknown. We estimate the health effects of air pollution from electricity generation in the US, for each of the seven Regional Transmission Organizations, for each US state, by income, and by race. We find that average exposures are the highest for the Blacks, followed by Non-Latino Whites. Disparities by race/ethnicity are observed for each income category. Exposures are higher for lower-income than for higher-income, but disparities are larger by race than by income. Geographically, we observe large differences between where electricity is generated and where people experience the resulting air pollution health consequences: for 36 US states, most of the health impacts are attributable to emissions in other states.

Seminar Speaker(s) 

Inês Azevedo
Associate Professor, Department of Energy Resources Engineering, Stanford University

Inês M.L. Azevedo has recently joined the Department of Energy Resources Engineering at Stanford University as Associate Professor. She also serves as Senior Fellow for the Woods Institute for the Environment. Prior to that, she was as Full Professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, where she still co-leads the Climate and Energy Decision Making Center (www.cedmcenter.org). Prof. Azevedo’s research interests focus on how to transition to a sustainable, low carbon, affordable and equitable energy system. She focusses on issues where a systems approach is needed, by combining engineering and technology analysis with economic and decision science approaches. She has published 80+ peer-reviewed publications that have been published in journals such as Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature Energy, Nature Climate Change, Applied Energy, Environmental Science & Technology, and Environmental Research Letters. She has participated as an author and committee member in several National Research Council reports from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (Assessment of Solid-State Lighting, 2013; Assessment of Technologies for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles, Phase II, First Report, 2014 and Phase II, Final Report, 2019). She is now participating in the IPCC AR6 as one of the lead authors for the Energy chapter. Prof. Azevedo has received the World Economic Forum’s “Young Scientists under 40” award in 2014, and the C3E Women in Clean Energy Research Award in 2017.


Nov 13, 2019 -
1:30pm to 2:30pm