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The purpose of this report is to describe a software application, the Powerplant Impact Estimator (PIE), developed to estimate the health and economic of electric generating units (EGUs) in the United States. In particular, we focus on the impacts in the years 2010, 2015, and 2020 of reducing ambient concentrations of particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5) — an air pollutant that has been linked to a variety of serious health effects, including asthma attacks, chronic bronchitis, hospital admissions, and premature mortality.
To estimate the PM2.5-related benefits associated with reducing emissions from EGUs, the PIE model first calculates the impact on ambient air quality, and then using the results from epidemiological studies, it estimates the number of adverse health impacts (e.g., avoided deaths), and then finally it estimates the associated economic benefits. This three-step process is the standard approach for evaluating the health and economic benefits of reduced air pollution. EPA used this approach when evaluating the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (U.S. EPA, 2006), the Clean Air Act (U.S. EPA, 1999b), the benefits of reducing greenhouse gases (Abt Associates Inc., 1999), the health effects of motor vehicles (U.S. EPA, 2000; 2004), and other major regulations.
This report describes the algorithms used to calculate population exposure, adverse health impacts, and the economic benefit of reducing these emissions. Chapter 2 provides an overview of PIE, and Chapter 3 describes the emissions reduction and modeling of the subsequent air quality change. Chapters 4 and 5 describe the estimation of health impacts and their valuation. The various appendices describe in further detail the assumptions and calculations underlying the analysis, and they also present health impact estimates for existing and new EGUs.
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