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The Health Effects of Motor Vehicle-Related Air Pollution



Suggested Citation: D. R. McCubbin and M. A. Delucchi, “Health Effects of Motor-Vehicle Air Pollution,” chapter 22 in Handbook of Transport and the Environment, Handbooks in Transport Volume 4, edited by. D. Hensher and K. Button, Elsevier Ltd., Oxford, England, pp. 411-427 (2003).

Emissions from motor vehicles and related sources, such as petroleum refineries, have a variety of effects on human health. The effects can be as innocuous as itchy eyes, or as serious as chronic lung disease or heart failure. These physical effects ] analysts and policy-makers who wish to perform social cost-benefit analyses of transportation investments, prioritize efforts to mitigate damages, or simply examine cost trends. Health costs generally are one of the largest environmental costs of motor vehicle use (Delucchi, 2000).

In this chapter we review recent studies of the health effects of air pollution related to the use of motor vehicles in the USA, and attempt to quantify the impacts (e.g. the number of premature deaths due to motor vehicle air pollution). Although we focus on the physical health effects, we also review how to combine these estimates of physical effects with their estimated monetary cost to produce an estimate of the total social cost of the health effects of motor vehicle pollution.

We begin with a review of motor vehicle emissions and exposure to motor-vehicle-related air pollution (see Chapters 4, 11, and 12 for further discussion of emissions and air quality). The health effects of exposure to motor-vehicle-related air pollution are then discussed. We conclude with a brief discussion of the valuation of health effects (see Chapters 19, 20, 21, and 24 for further discussions of valuation) and a summary of two recent estimates of the total social cost of the health effects of motor vehicle pollution.