Online Program

Climate change impacts on power plant emissions, air quality and health in the US

Monday, November 4, 2013

Vijay Limaye, BA, Department of Population Health Sciences/Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Jonathan A. Patz, MD, MPH, Global Health Institute, Dept. Population Health Sci., & Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

Air pollution effects from climate change rank high among future health concerns. Nearly 70 million Americans live in areas exceeding air quality standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), while 120 million reside in counties exceeding 8-hour ozone standards. Climatic effects on air quality are documented for ozone but not for PM2.5, a more hazardous pollutant. Because a key source of PM2.5 is fossil fuel combustion, an increase in emissions from higher electricity demand during hotter summers has been posited. We quantify future electricity sector emissions in response to climate warming and assess health impacts. A coupled modeling approach is used to identify populations in the Eastern US exposed to future air pollution-related health risks from climate change. We model: (1) the atmospheric effects of climate change on air quality for current and future climates, (2) climate impacts on future summer electricity demand and resulting emissions, and (3) health risks from climate change-driven increases in ozone and PM2.5 air pollution. Preliminary results indicate an average mid-century summer temperature of 27.7° C and a 16% increase in summer electricity consumption compared to 2007. The US Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program is utilized to estimate health risks using concentration-response and economic valuation functions for air pollution-related health outcomes. Expected results include estimates of health impacts (morbidity and mortality) from ambient air pollution exposure. The excess health burden and its associated monetary impact (for cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases and asthma, mortality, and work/school absenteeism) from exacerbated air pollution will be estimated. This study represents a novel approach integrating climate, air quality, energy, and health models to identify key climate- and air quality-related health impacts. The integrated effort provides a framework applicable to risk assessment for other populations of the industrialized world facing linked air quality-energy-health risks.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the expected impacts of climate change on regional air quality in the eastern United States. Differentiate between the health impacts of fine particulate matter and ozone pollution. Compare the current air quality-related health burden in the study region with future mortality and morbidity anticipated as a result of climate change and increased demand for electricity.

Keyword(s): Climate Change, Air Quality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a fourth year PhD student pursuing a joint degree in Epidemiology and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin. I have completed coursework in epidemiology, biostatistics, and public health policy and gained experience in environmental modeling and health impact assessment.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.