Home » Study Says Long-Term Traffic Pollution Exposure Associated With Higher Health Care Costs

Study Says Long-Term Traffic Pollution Exposure Associated With Higher Health Care Costs


Long-term exposure to low levels of traffic pollution is associated with higher health care costs for elderly residents, according to a hyper-local study recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Atmospheric Environment.

Emergency room costs were nearly $500 higher per year for the average elderly patient when nitrogen dioxide, a common traffic pollutant, was 5.9 parts per billion higher than areas with nitrogen dioxide of 4.2 parts per billion.

California considers anything above long-term exposure of 30 parts per billion to be harmful to humans. This study shows costs rising even at low levels of pollution.

“Most of these levels are below what the state considers to be harmful,” said Kaiser Permanente Division of Research scientist Stacey Alexeeff, who co-first authored the study with senior health scientist Ananya Roy with the Environmental Defense Fund.


The effects are particularly costly for heart disease patients in areas with 10.1 parts per billion of nitrogen dioxide. Total annual direct health care costs for them were 7 percent higher than for patients exposed to 4.2 parts per billion of nitrogen dioxide. Emergency room costs were 23 percent higher.

The study analyzed block-by-block pollution over two and a half years and five years of Kaiser Permanente Northern California patient health records. Researchers used pollution data collected by monitors attached to Google Street View cars.

Researchers linked the air quality data to patient addresses from more than 25,000 Kaiser members.
Roy said the increased costs at $500 per person could add significantly to Medicare costs, which were nearly $830 billion in 2020, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“It does add up to quite a lot of money,” Roy said.


Roy suggested the research has important implications for transportation and environmental policy.

Slashing transportation emissions “are going to be vital to ensuring that we have healthy communities,” Roy said. Electric cars and trucks could be a big part of that, she suggested.

Alexeeff sees the need for policy changes too.

“I think it’s really difficult because people can’t just move” from their home easily, Alexeeff said.

The Environmental Defense Fund paid for the study.


To Do List August 12, 2022 - 2:11 PM - 2:11 PM

So the stack and pack transit village artificial manufacturing of society placement of people in high density urban areas by the Marxist overseers has some negative consequences? I thought they thought this all out first. I bet they have wineries or places they own to get away from all that bad air stuff.

Dawg August 12, 2022 - 2:18 PM - 2:18 PM

They should do a study on the effects of long term traffic pollution on toll collectors. They were exposed to it for at least 40 hours a week.

Fred August 12, 2022 - 2:31 PM - 2:31 PM

They did the same study some time ago to ban lead from gasoline.

Dorothy August 12, 2022 - 2:35 PM - 2:35 PM

They didn’t know that already?

Cellophane August 12, 2022 - 2:44 PM - 2:44 PM


Our tax dollars at work.

James August 12, 2022 - 3:24 PM - 3:24 PM

More fear porn to justify destroying the USA economy
,as they pretend its going to save the USA.
Their smog test program is a farce as companies can pollute all day if they pay pollution credits.Wake up libs,as usual your own people are deceiving you,and you eat it up like Tide pods.
They dont care one bit about air quality..follow the money.Libs,take a math and economics and common sense class first please.

The Fearless Spectator August 12, 2022 - 4:02 PM - 4:02 PM

We’re dealing with some quick minds here……….

But they ruined it with the electric car pitch.
As usual, it’s just plain politics.
Don’t follow the science, follow the money.
Sip a beverage with a plastic straw in their honor……..

LocalAntiLib August 12, 2022 - 4:17 PM - 4:17 PM

Well duh, a study was needed for this info?
Geez some people are so stupid..

KT August 12, 2022 - 4:20 PM - 4:20 PM

Higher cost most likely due to the amount of people getting free healthcare. Hey someone has to pay for it.

Snakekeeper August 12, 2022 - 4:22 PM - 4:22 PM

So how much money did they spend to find out long term exposure to pollutants is bad for you…DA!

Captain Bebops August 12, 2022 - 4:27 PM - 4:27 PM

How about a study on the long term effects of media pollution. It’s apparently very damaging unless you consider it all a comedy series. 😄

Wesley Mouch August 12, 2022 - 4:38 PM - 4:38 PM

The last sentence of the article says it all. Advocacy and lobbying. Beware!

Randy August 12, 2022 - 4:50 PM - 4:50 PM

…. imho more needs to be done around diesels

Martinezmike August 12, 2022 - 5:27 PM - 5:27 PM

I believe living longer is also associated with higher health care costs

The Fearless Spectator August 12, 2022 - 8:24 PM - 8:24 PM

Your comment is incredibly ironic and funny.
Nice work.

JG27AD August 12, 2022 - 6:16 PM - 6:16 PM

Once you know who funded the study you know what the findings will be.
Works every time.


Cautiously Informed August 12, 2022 - 8:04 PM - 8:04 PM

Inhaling poison results in medical/health problems???
No Way!!!
Who woulda thought!!!
But don’t worry, everybody, the liberal Democrats will fix it all.

Seginus August 13, 2022 - 8:40 AM - 8:40 AM

Bring back the Southern Pacific’s San Ramon Branch Line back, bring the Key System back, bring the Sacramento Northern line back, let us fund passenger and freight rail in this country once more and get out of our smoking choking automobiles.

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