Economic Evaluation of Air Quality Targets for Heavy Metals


Courtesy of Entec UK Ltd

The European Commission has in recent years produced several Directives that aim to regulate air pollution by setting limits for the allowable concentration of pollutants in ambient air. Directives have already been agreed that cover pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, lead and carbon monoxide. For some other pollutants, such as the heavy metals arsenic, cadmium and nickel, the Commission intends to bring forward legislation in the near future. These heavy metals are pollutants that may be linked to a higher risk of lung cancer when breathed in. They are mainly produced through combustion processes, for industrial and commercial power generation. There are also some emissions from large industrial processes in the metals industry, such as blast furnaces. This particular study examines the benefits to human health of reducing concentrations of these metals in the air to meet different possible limit values, and examines the economic costs that would be involved in meeting these limit values.

The principal objective of this study was to identify and estimate the costs and benefits of meeting potential air quality limit values for the following heavy metals: arsenic; cadmium; and nickel. In addition, mercury is also considered although, as potential limit values or risk factors were not available for mercury during the timescale of this study, only a less extensive analysis has been possible for this metal.

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