Ozone levels have sizeable impact on worker productivity

December 18, 2012

Researchers in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health assessed the impact of pollution on agricultural worker productivity using daily variations in ozone levels. Their results show that ozone, even at levels below current air-quality standards in most parts of the world, has significant negative impacts on worker productivity. Their findings suggest that environmental protection is important for promoting economic growth and investing in human capital in contrast to its common portrayal as a tax on producers. Results of the study are published in the American Economic Review.

continues to be a pervasive global issue with much debate over optimal levels. While policy makers routinely note that regulating ozone smog leads to many health benefits like reduced hospitalizations and mortality rates, Matthew Neidell, PhD, associate professor at the Mailman School and principal investigator, set out to investigate whether lower air pollution might also affect job performance. Until this research, there had been no systematic evidence on the direct impact of pollution on .

The researchers found that a 10 ppb (parts per billion) change in average results in a significant 5.5 percent change in agricultural worker productivity. "These estimates are particularly noteworthy as the U.S. EPA is currently moving in the direction of reducing federal ground-level ozone standards," said Dr.Neidell, PhD. This past September President Obama said he would not support a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to tighten the federal ozone standard because it would pose too heavy a burden on businesses, which stunned public health experts and environmentalists.

Dr. Neidell also points out that in developing countries where environmental regulations are less strict and agriculture plays a more dominant role in the economy, the effects reported here may have a vast detrimental impact on a country's prosperity.

Explore further: Researchers solve another piece of the puzzle how forests can effect our climate

Related Stories

E3-production—sustainable manufacturing

March 20, 2014

Scarce and expensive raw materials, rising energy prices, climate protection and demographic shifts leave industrial production with a lot to contend with in the coming years. In the 'E3-production' lighthouse project, Fraunhofer ...

Pesticide regulation in California is flawed, UCLA report says

September 23, 2013

Approximately 30 million pounds of fumigant pesticides are sprayed on valuable California crops each year—strawberries, tomatoes, peppers and the like—in an attempt to control pests. Responsibility for the safety of pesticides ...

Scientists study how to improve pesticide efficiency

February 29, 2012

In 2007, a controversial pesticide was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use on fruit and vegetable crops, mainly in California and Florida. Farm workers and scientists protested the approval of the pesticide ...

Recommended for you

Who you gonna trust? How power affects our faith in others

October 6, 2015

One of the ongoing themes of the current presidential campaign is that Americans are becoming increasingly distrustful of those who walk the corridors of power – Exhibit A being the Republican presidential primary, in which ...

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...

From a very old skeleton, new insights on ancient migrations

October 9, 2015

Three years ago, a group of researchers found a cave in Ethiopia with a secret: it held the 4,500-year-old remains of a man, with his head resting on a rock pillow, his hands folded under his face, and stone flake tools surrounding ...

Mexican site yields new details of sacrifice of Spaniards

October 9, 2015

It was one of the worst defeats in one of history's most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.