Waylaid Dialectic

October 13, 2015

Not quite the miasma theory of disease, but…

Filed under: Random Musings — terence @ 7:36 am

An interesting new NBER working paper…

Pollution, Infectious Disease, and Mortality: Evidence from the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic

Karen Clay, Joshua Lewis, Edson Severnini

This paper uses the 1918 influenza pandemic as a natural experiment to examine whether air pollution affects susceptibility to infectious disease…The findings suggest that air pollution exacerbated the impact of the pandemic. Proximity to World War I military bases and baseline city health conditions also contributed to pandemic severity. The effects of air pollution are quantitatively important. Had coal-fired capacity in above-median cities been reduced to the median level, 3,400-5,860 pandemic- related infant deaths and 15,575-23,686 pandemic-related all-age deaths would have been averted. These results highlight the complementarity between air pollution and infectious disease on health, and suggest that there may be large co-benefits associated with pollution abatement policies.

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