Title: Analysis of the Potential Health Impacts of Reducing Ozone Levels in the OTR Using BenMAP – 2018 Edition
Organization: Ozone Transport Commission OTC Modeling Committee
Publication Date: January 3, 2019
Role: Primary Analyst and Author
In 2015, the 8-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) was lowered to 70 ppb. This was the high end of the range recommended by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) originally and in the rule proposal by Administrator McCarthy. The lower end of the range proposed by EPA was 65 ppb. Additionally, recent research has shown health effects from ozone occur at even lower levels. Given that health effects could be caused at levels closer to what is considered background we decided to also look at 40 ppb which close to a level considered to be United States Background (USB). As a result three levels of ozone were investigated in this analysis: 70 ppb, 65 ppb, and 40 ppb.
Each year that air quality does not meet the NAAQS the health of the populations exposed to the poor air quality are impacted. OTC began examining the potential health impacts of these levels of exposure starting in 2011 and as of writing 2017 is the most recent year for which data is available. As a result the analysis will focus on each ozone season for which data has been processed, 2011-2017, with the intention of adding new information annually.
Several states in the Ozone Transport Region (OTR) exceed the NAAQS set by EPA, which were set to a level to adequately protect the public health. This implies that populations in the OTR would receive a health benefit if the entire OTR were to meet the NAAQS. Additionally, even more monitors have values above the other thresholds discussed.
This paper looks at the benefits that would have occurred each year from 2011-2017, using monitored data had the entire OTR met ozone levels of 70 ppb, 65 ppb, and 40 ppb as estimated using health benefit and economic functions that came from peer reviewed sources employed by EPA in many studies processed with BenMAP.
We estimated that approximately 600 – 2,400 persons would have not died prematurely in a given year 2011-2017 had the OTR air quality attained a level that met the 70 ppb Ozone NAAQS with even more persons that would not have died if ozone levels were even lower. As a point comparison in 2014 about 2,600 people died of homicide in the OTR and all of Virginia, 1,500 of HIV/AIDS, and 1,300 of Hepatitis C, which places deaths from ozone exposure among other notable health crises. Additionally, we estimated that there would have been economic benefit to the region in the range of $5-19 billion in all health impacts from reducing ozone to 70 ppb in any given year.