An economic assessment of the health effects and crop yield losses caused by air pollution in mainland China

Weijie Miao , Xin Huang , Yu Song


Received March 29, 2016,Revised July 13, 2016, Accepted August 16, 2016, Available online October 22, 2016

Volume 29,2017,Pages 102-113

Air pollution is severe in China, and pollutants such as PM2.5 and surface O3 may cause major damage to human health and crops, respectively. Few studies have considered the health effects of PM2.5 or the loss of crop yields due to surface O3 using model-simulated air pollution data in China. We used gridded outputs from the WRF-Chem model, high resolution population data, and crop yield data to evaluate the effects on human health and crop yield in mainland China. Our results showed that outdoor PM2.5 pollution was responsible for 1.70–1.99 million cases of all-cause mortality in 2006. The economic costs of these health effects were estimated to be 151.1–176.9 billion USD, of which 90% were attributed to mortality. The estimated crop yield losses for wheat, rice, maize, and soybean were approximately 9, 4.6, 0.44, and 0.34 million tons, respectively, resulting in economic losses of 3.4 billion USD. The total economic losses due to ambient air pollution were estimated to be 154.5–180.3 billion USD, accounting for approximately 5.7%–6.6% of the total GDP of China in 2006. Our results show that both population health and staple crop yields in China have been significantly affected by exposure to air pollution. Measures should be taken to reduce emissions, improve air quality, and mitigate the economic loss.

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