WASHINGTON (CN) – Amendments made to the Clean Air Act in 1990 saved an estimated 164,000 lives, including 230 babies in 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency says in a new report.
The report credits emissions control programs required under the act with reducing particulate emissions from smokestacks and vehicle tailpipes.
The report, called the Second Prospective Report the Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020, is the third in a series mandated by the act. It details the costs and benefits in target years 30 and 40 years after the 1990 amendments were passed.
In economic terms, the agency estimates that nearly $1.2 trillion was saved in 2010 through reductions in premature deaths and the associated costs of treating people suffering from chronic exposure to particulate matter in the air.
By 2020, the agency predicts that total implementation costs will reach $380 billion while benefits of $12 trillion will have accrued, a rate of return of 32 to 1.
The agency estimates that in the final year of the study nearly 240,000 premature deaths, 120,000 emergency room visits, 5.4 million lost school days and 17 million lost work days will be prevented by reductions in air pollution. The report does not include annual estimates, or predicted totals of health benefits.
The agency compared actual outcomes from 1990 to 2010 with predicted outcomes had emissions control programs remained at the levels set by the last major change to the act’s requirements in 1977. Predictions for 2020 and cumulative benefits were projected using the rate of change from 1990 to 2010.