A paper published last year in the European Respiratory Journal and co-authored by associate professor Sylvia Brandt, Resource Economics and Public Policy, has been named by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) as one of the top research papers of 2012.
In the paper, “Costs of Childhood Asthma Due to Traffic-Related Pollution in Two California Communities,” Brandt and her fellow researchers estimate that childhood asthma associated with air pollution in Long Beach and Riverside, Calif., costs $18 million each year. This study not only examined direct health care costs related to childhood asthma, as many previous analyses have done, but also calculated the indirect costs of caring for a child with asthma. “The authors found that including this data almost doubled the estimated economic cost for these two communities alone,” according to the NIEHS. The biggest portion of this cost comes from parents and other caregivers missing work — and therefore losing income — when a child is absent from school because of asthma.
Researchers estimate the total annual cost per childhood asthma case is $3,819 in Long Beach and $4,063 in Riverside. “The fact that together these two communities account for only 2 percent of the population of California suggests that the statewide costs are truly substantial,” wrote Brandt in the report. The researchers further noted that nationwide, the total cost of childhood asthma is a serious economic burden on families, falling disproportionately on those living near busy traffic corridors.