Air Pollution and Medical Care Use by Older Americans: A Cross-Area Analysis

Journal Articles

The case for reduction of air pollution has been predicated primarily on the frequently observed relationship between pollution and mortality and morbidity. Because pollution control usually involves costs, a rational public policy will weigh the benefits against the costs. This study investigates another potential benefit from pollution reduction: namely, decreased use of medical care. We find a strong relationship between particulate matter and inpatient and outpatient care at ages 65-84 across 183 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). The relationship is statistically significant at a very high level of confidence even after the region and population size of the areas, education, real income, racial composition, use of cigarettes, and obesity are controlled for.

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