UNC-Chapel Hill researchers find significant health benefits of New York’s air pollution reduction policies

UNC-Chapel Hill researchers find significant health benefits of New York’s air pollution reduction policies

New research shows how reducing emissions can save lives and save money

A new study by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill estimates that reducing emissions in New York could save more than 400 lives each year.

Researchers from the UNC Institute for the Environment modeled five sustainability policy scenarios in New York and found a significant reduction in health risks associated with lower air pollution based on the policies. The results were published this week in Environmental science and technology.

The study focused on five scenarios, including commercial kitchen, residential and commercial building fuel, fleet electrification, traffic congestion pricing in Manhattan, and a combination of all these scenarios under of a city-wide sustainability policy.

The fifth scenario, which combines the emission reductions of all scenarios, estimates a prevention of 210 to 475 deaths, 340 asthma-related emergency room visits, and monetized health benefits worth $2 billion to $5 billion. dollars per year. These findings have implications for other cities seeking to mitigate air pollution to achieve positive health outcomes for city residents.

To conduct the study, the research team developed a new web-based hyperlocal resolution modeling tool that allowed them to assess the health risks associated with air pollution abatement policies at the code level. postal.

“The novelty of this tool is to assess air pollution benefits at the zip code level,” said Sarav Arunachalam, senior researcher and deputy director of the UNC Institute for the Environment. “New York City has five boroughs, with a total of nearly 200 ZIP codes. The tool uses emissions from a postcode or multiple postcodes or perhaps an entire county to see how a specific emissions reduction policy can be implemented and propagated through the entire chain. It is therefore a comprehensive tool for assessing health impact policies that can range from designing a policy that changes emissions to monetizing health benefits based on changes in air pollution.

The new tool, ZAPPA, which stands for ZIP Code-Level Air Pollution Policy Assessment, builds on previous efforts to model local-scale climate and air quality scenarios and combines two independently created modeling tools for the US EPA. A tool developed by the UNC Institute for the Environment called C-TOOLS models dispersions of emission sources and calculates neighborhood-scale pollutant concentrations. The other, CO-Benefits Risk Assessment or COBRA developed by project partners at Abt Associates, estimates and monetizes the health effects of air pollution.

ZAPPA provides researchers with higher resolution data for emissions, health impacts and population through an easy-to-use web-based tool. This high-resolution view gives researchers and non-technical users the ability to quickly assess policy outcomes associated with the potential health and monetary benefits of air quality management policies, and visualize the results via interactive maps.

“By modeling the impacts of air pollution at the zip code level, this tool will help New York make more informed decisions based on how policies will affect specific neighborhoods,” said Abt’s David Cooley. Associates, co-designer of the tool.

The modeling tool was created to help the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) estimate the public health benefits of adopting clean and renewable energy and reduced energy demand in New York and counties across the state.

“Identifying the local and societal impacts of emissions reductions gives decision makers in New York and across the country the ability to better respond to socioeconomic and environmental disparities in pollution exposure as we move away from fossil fuels,” said John Williams, vice president of policy. and regulatory affairs for NYSERDA. “ZAPPA is a valuable tool for considering air quality and public health benefits in communities across the state as we develop strategies to meet New York’s climate goals.”

The New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability has pledged to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 in its “80 x 50 Plan”, which is part of the the city’s “OneNYC sustainability plan”. This new tool will help the city assess the health co-benefits of progress towards this goal through the web interface to assess multiple emission scenarios at high spatial resolution.

“ZAPPA will help New York City prioritize emissions reduction efforts to maximize health benefits as we promote a just energy transition,” said Sarah Johnson, executive director of the City’s Clean Air Program. NYC health department. “We thank UNC and our partners for working with us to develop this vital tool.”

The study, funded by NYSERDA, was conducted in partnership with the New York City Department of Health and Abt Associates.

For more information about this study, email Emily Williams, director of community and academic relations at the UNC Institute for the Environment at [email protected]