Costs of health impacts of air pollution
Reducing or mitigating the damage caused by air pollution incurs major costs, e.g. in public healthcare or in building renovation. Such pollution also leads to a loss of value of properties, harvest losses in agriculture, impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity losses. These costs and losses are termed ‘external costs’ because they are met by the general public, not by the polluters. The external costs associated with air pollution occur above all in the healthcare system, followed by the agriculture sector (due to smaller harvests), as well as in the form of damage to buildings and materials.
This indicator shows the costs that arise in the healthcare sector as the result of air pollution.
Air pollution results in billions in uncovered costs every year in Switzerland. These external costs, which are not covered by the polluters, occur above all in the healthcare system, where the ‘conversion’ of years of life lost into monetary units represents by far the largest cost factor relating to air pollution. Air pollution is a factor in the premature death of 2,300 people every year. It is also the cause of a large number of diseases, in particular respiratory and cardiovascular disorders associated with particulate matter. Despite the many measures taken in recent years to improve air quality, air pollution remains a problem.
The ‘conversion’ of years of life lost into monetary units represents by far the largest cost factor relating to air pollution.
- Related indicators
- Health problems caused by air pollution
To calculate external costs, the effects or damage resulting from the existing pollution situation are identified. The damage is then quantified in monetary units. For that purpose, specific costing is conducted for each cost item.
For this calculation of external effects (Infras, Ecoplan (2018)), the value of statistical life (VOSL) was adjusted for Switzerland and updated to the year 2018 (international methodology as per OECD 2012 and Ecoplan 2016). In the conversion, an adjustment had to be made in relation to Ecoplan 2016 as the OECD and World Bank purchasing power parity data were retroactively adjusted to 2005.
|Targeted trend||Initial value||Final value||Variation in %||Observed trend||Assessment|
|When interpreting the figures, factors such as increased life expectancy, population growth and the rise in GDP and prices must be taken into account. These factors put the stabilization of healthcare costs into perspective, so that the development can nevertheless be regarded as positive.|