Cost of Particulate Air Pollution in Armidale: A Clinical Event Survey

Lutfa Khan, Kevin Parton, Howard Doran

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Abstract

The objective of the research reported in this paper was to assess the health impacts and economic costs of particulate pollution caused by woodsmoke from domestic heating in a rural town. Using a survey of general practitioners (GPs), the number of respiratory cases per day was related to the level of particulate (PM2.5) pollution. Poisson regression was used, with the number of GP visits for respiratory treatment the dependent variable and level of pollution, temperature and the location of the GP surgery as explanatory variables. This provided an estimate of the number of cases caused by woodsmoke pollution. The economic cost was then obtained by multiplying this number of cases by the cost per patient. The results show that particulate air pollution caused by woodsmoke from domestic heating does result in patients presenting with respiratory illness. Approximately 38% of total respiratory visits to GP surgeries were due to particulate air pollution. The daily economic cost of respiratory symptoms in the town due to this pollution was estimated to be $1666. The work has two major implications. First, it presents a method of using GP data to estimate the level of morbidity and cost associated with particulate air pollution. Second, it shows that there is a need in rural towns to consider the health impacts of planning decisions related to wood heating.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Health
Volume7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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