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The hidden cost of wildfires: Economic valuation of health effects of wildfire smoke exposure in southern California

Author(s):

Leslie A. Richardson
John B. Loomis

Year:

2012

Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Rocky Mountain Research Station

Source:

Journal of Forest Economics. 18: 14-35.

Description

There is a growing concern that human health impacts from exposure to wildfire smoke are ignored in estimates of monetized damages from wildfires. Current research highlights the need for better data collection and analysis of these impacts. Using unique primary data, this paper quantifies the economic cost of health effects from the largest wildfire in Los Angeles County's modern history. A cost of illness estimate is $9.50 per exposed person per day. However, theory and empirical research consistently find that this measure largely underestimates the true economic cost of health effects from exposure to a pollutant in that it ignores the cost of defensive actions taken as well as disutility. For the first time, the defensive behavior method is applied to calculate the willingness to pay for a reduction in one wildfire smoke induced symptom day, which is estimated to be $84.42 per exposed person per day.

Citation

Richardson, Leslie A.; Champ, Patricia A.; Loomis, John B. 2012. The hidden cost of wildfires: Economic valuation of health effects of wildfire smoke exposure in southern California. Journal of Forest Economics. 18: 14-35.

Cited

Publication Notes

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/40381