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Title:Essays on the economics of pollution prevention
Author(s):Zou, Yongchen
Director of Research:Miller, Nolan
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Miller, Nolan
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bernhardt, Dan; Deryugina, Tatyana; Fullerton, Don; Molitor, David
Department / Program:Economics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Environmental economics
Government policy
Pollution prevention
Pollution monitoring
Strategic response
Air pollution
Noise pollution
Wind turbine syndrome
Wildfire smoke
Abstract:Chapter 1 studies unintended consequences of intermittent air pollution monitoring. Compliance monitoring of environmental standards is often conducted intermittently due to its expense. Intermittent monitoring, however, may encourage polluters to show compliance during monitoring, but to increase polluting activities at other times. I document strategic responses to a cyclical, once-every-six-day monitoring schedule under a national outdoor air quality regulation. Using an independent satellite-based measure of air pollution, I show that air quality where this cyclical monitoring takes place is significantly worse on unmonitored days. Larger effects are observed in areas that (1) are out-of-compliance with air quality standards, and thus face steeper potential penalties, (2) have a high concentration of certain industries, such as wood product manufacturing, and (3) are intersected by highways. Consistent with this last finding, I show that local governments are more likely to issue air quality warnings to coordinate reduced automobile usage and outdoor activities on days when pollution monitoring is scheduled. Chapter 2 studies noise pollution and health effects of wind farms. Current technology uses wind turbines’ blade aerodynamics to convert wind energy to electricity. This process generates significant low-frequency noise that reportedly results in residents’ sleep disruptions, among other annoyance symptoms. However, the existence and the importance of wind farms’ health effects on a population scale remain unknown. Exploiting over 800 utility-scale wind turbine installation events in the United States from 2001-2013, I show robust evidence that wind farms lead to significant increases in suicide. I explore three indirect tests of the role of low-frequency noise exposure. First, suicide effect concentrates among at-risk individuals to noise-induced illnesses, such as the elderly. Second, the suicide effect is driven by days when wind blows in directions that would raise residents’ exposure to low-frequency noise radiation. Third, data from a large scale health survey suggest increased sleep insufficiency as new turbines began operating. These findings point to the value of noise abatement in future wind technology innovations. Chapter 3 (coauthored with Nolan Miller and David Molitor) studies drifting wildfire smoke plumes and how they affect health outcomes in downwind cities. Long-range transport of wildfire smoke affects air quality on a broad geographic and temporal scale. We introduce a satellite-based dataset that tracks daily smoke plume coverage for almost every location in the US from 2006 to 2013. We show that transport of wildfire smoke generates frequent and significant variations in air pollution, especially fine particulate matter, for cities hundreds of miles away from the fire itself. Linking these smoke events to Medicare administrative data on the near-universe of US elderly population, we show that (1) exposure to wildfire pollution poses a significant mortality risk for the elderly, and (2) a same increase in pollution level induces much stronger mortality damages in regions with generally good air quality. We discuss implications of this finding for pollution control in low-pollution areas
Issue Date:2018-04-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Yongchen Zou
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-04
Date Deposited:2018-05

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