Health Externalities of Ambient Air Pollution in India

Dean Spears , Delhi School of Economics
Sagnik Dey, IIT Delhi
Sourangsu Chowdhury, IIT Delhi
Sangita Vyas, University of Texas at Austin
Joshua Apte, University of Texas at Austin

The disease burden from ambient fine particulate (PM2.5) exposure in India has been estimated so far using risk functions based on studies done elsewhere. Here we provide the first direct evidence of the impact of ambient PM2.5 exposure on child health in India using measurements from nationally-representative anthropometric data matched to satellite-based exposure data. We apply fixed effect regression with child height-for-age as the dependent variable and district-month-level early-life exposure to ambient PM2.5 as the independent variable. We show that a 100 µg/m3 increase in ambient PM2.5 exposure leads to a 0.05 standard deviation decrease in height-for-age after controlling for district-specific seasonality, household properties, and other confounding factors. We find effects on both rural and urban children, and cannot reject that the shape of the concentration-response curve is linear. Because average exposure to ambient particulate pollution is high in India, our results recommend ambient air pollution as public health policy priority.

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 Presented in Session 11. Health & Mortality 2