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The hidden cost of wildfires: Economic valuation of health effects of wildfire smoke exposure in southern California


Richardson, Leslie A.; Champ, Patricia A.; Loomis, John B. 2012. The hidden cost of wildfires: Economic valuation of health effects of wildfire smoke exposure in southern California. Journal of Forest Economics. 18: 14-35.

doi: 10.1016/j.jfe.2011.05.002

There is a growing concern that human health impacts from exposure to wildfire smoke are ignored in estimates of monetized damages from wildfires. Current research highlights the need for better data collection and analysis of these impacts. Using unique primary data, this paper quantifies the economic cost of health effects from the largest wildfire in Los Angeles County's modern history. A cost of illness estimate is $9.50 per exposed person per day. However, theory and empirical research consistently find that this measure largely underestimates the true economic cost of health effects from exposure to a pollutant in that it ignores the cost of defensive actions taken as well as disutility. For the first time, the defensive behavior method is applied to calculate the willingness to pay for a reduction in one wildfire smoke induced symptom day, which is estimated to be $84.42 per exposed person per day.

Keywords: wildfire, health effects, defensive behavior method, willingness to pay, cost of illness, Station Fire


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http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/rmrs_2012_richardson_l001.pdf

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: The hidden cost of wildfires: Economic valuation of health effects of wildfire smoke exposure in southern California
Electronic Publish Date: March 21, 2012
Last Update:
March 21, 2012

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