The costs of reducing air emissions, at least particulates, appears to be justified according to research cited during a recent lecture by environmental economist C. Arden Pope, III, a professor at Brigham Young University. An article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Dr. Pope recounted epidemiological and scientific studies demonstrating the health and economic benefits of air pollution control regulation. Pope was speaking as part of the distinguished lecturer series at Pittsburgh Carnegie Mellon University, and he reminded the audience of early work done Lester B. Lave at Carnegie Mellon during the 1970s. Lave’s work was considered very controversial at the time, particularly in heavily industrialized Pittsburgh where Carnegie Mellon is located. Dr. Pope noted that the benefits of air emissions control regulations have since been documented in numerous studies. Pope’s own work in Utah describing the economic impacts of large quantities of particulate matter was also controversial following a study completed and published in the late 1980s. There, as well, further studies confirmed that Pope’s conclusions were accurate.
While recent enhancements to air regulations remain controversial, it bears pausing to remember that similar controversy accompanied earlier iterations of air pollution controls. And that those controls have had measurable benefits.
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