Article published 3 October 2023

Motion blur on people walking across a crosswalk

What’s the (health) cost of pollution?

Dementia, kidney disease, hypertension, asthma, chronic bronchitis, fertility loss and cancers. The list of known health impacts from air pollution and exposure to chemical substances is long and getting longer.

The EU Horizon project VALESOR – Valuation of environmental stressors – will put a monetary value on the health impacts from pollution and provide an online tool to guide decisionmakers on the most effective measures to save both lives and costs.

– Exposure to air pollutants and chemical substances is the one of biggest environmental threats to human lives and health. By highlighting the estimated cost to society, we hope to spur change, says Gildas Appéré, Valesor project coordinator.

Environmental stressors, such as ultra-fine particles, ozone, toxic metals, and solvents, to name a few, harms both the climate, our ecosystems and human health. To valuate the consequences in terms of illness and loss of life years many metrics need to be considered.

The EU-project VALESOR aims to clarify differences, similarities, and relationships between different health and economic metrics and provide guidance on the most relevant metrics to use for consistent economic valuation of environmental stressors.

Based on an updated economic valuation model, the project will develop an online tool for easy assessment of the health and welfare consequences of variations in exposure to chemical stressors and air pollution. Ultimately, the project aims to help policy makers optimally allocate public resources.

– The current situation is such that our institutions might decide to opt for expensive medical treatments based on a high value of so-called quality-adjusted-life-years, while mobility policies reducing pollution and noise might be rejected based on the value of affected numbers of life-years. Correcting these inconsistencies is hopefully one outcome of Valesor, says Gildas Appéré.

While the health impact associated with for example led, nitrogen oxides and fine particles are well known, for many others, exposure and hazard data are still incomplete or even lacking. Therefore, the tool will include data for a selection of chemicals and provide a partial and provisional assessment based on credible hypothesis.

VALESOR is funded by the EU HADEA programme and runs between January 2023 to January 2026. It involves researchers and experts from seven European countries and 11 universities, institutes, and consultancy firms. VALESOR is also part of the research cluster METEOR - Methods for assessing health-related costs of environmental stressors - together with four parallel projects.

Visit the Meteor website External link, opens in new window.

For more information, please contact:

Gildas Appéré, Valesor project coordinator, University of Angers
Marie Chastenet, Valesor project manager, University of Angers