Environment and health within the OECD-region: lost health, lost money

29-06-2001 | Publication

This study assessed the environmental health impact within the OECD region, both in terms of lost health and lost money.

2-5% of the total Burden of Disease (BoD) was attributed to environmental factors. Environmental health loss in the OECD high income subregion was monetary valued at US$45-140 billion (or US$53-160 per capita, central estimate). First, environment attributable fractions of the BoD of 16 diseases with high disease burdens were assessed and total environmental BoD was estimated at: OECD region 2-5%, non-OECD 8-12%, world 7.5-11%.

Second, an economic valuation of the environmental health impact was performed. Applying the above percentages to the total health expenditure resulted in OECD environmental health costs of 45-110 billion US$ (40-100 $/capita). However, since health expenditures only apply to morbidity, morbidity and mortality costs were also estimated separately. Environmental morbidity costs were obtained using disease-specific direct costs of illness, environmental mortality costs were based on a monetary valuation of the years of life lost, first as GDP per capita and second by using willingness-to-pay values for death divided by lost life expectancy. This finally lead to three different estimates of environmental health costs in the OECD high income region: a lower estimate of US$30-95 billion (US$35-105 per capita), a central estimate of US$45-140 billion (US$53-160 per capita), and an upper estimate of US$215-680 billion (US$240-775 per capita).