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The Hidden Costs of Power: Health Effects of Coal Electricity Generation in India

The Hidden Costs of Power: Health Effects of Coal Electricity Generation in India


Maureen Cropper, Shama Gamkhar, Kabir Malik, Alex Limonov, and Ian Partridge

Presented by Maureen Cropper

Wednesday, May 16, 2012, 12.30-2 pm
Venue: I2-250


To help inform pollution control policies in the Indian electricity sector we estimate the health damages associated with particulate matter, SO2 and NOx from individual coal-fired power plants.  We calculate the damages per ton of pollutant for each of 89 plants and compute total damages in 2008, by pollutant, for 62 plants. We estimate health damages by combining data on power plant emissions of particulate matter, SO2 and NOx with reduced-form intake fraction models that link emissions to changes in population-weighted ambient concentrations of fine particles. Concentration-response functions for fine particles from Pope et al. (2002) are used to estimate premature cardiopulmonary deaths associated with air emissions for persons 30 and older. Our results suggest that 75% of premature deaths are associated with fine particles that result from SO2 emissions. After characterizing the distribution of premature mortality across plants we calculate the reduction in mortality and cost-effectiveness of two options to reduce power plant emissions—installing a flue-gas desulfurization unit (scrubber) and washing coal to reduce ash content.  Specifically, we calculate the health benefits and cost-per-life saved of the flue-gas desulfurization unit installed at the Dahanu power plant in Maharashtra and the health benefits of coal washing at the Rihand power plant in Uttar Pradesh.

Maureen Cropper is a Distinguished University Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland, a Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future, and a former Lead Economist at the World Bank.  Dr. Cropper has served as chair of the EPA Science Advisory Board Environmental Economics Advisory Committee and as president of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.  She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.  Her research has focused on valuing environmental amenities (especially environmental health effects), on the discounting of future health benefits, and on the tradeoffs implicit in environmental regulations. Her current research focuses on energy efficiency in India, on the impact of climate change on migration, and on the benefits of collective action in pandemic flu control. Dr. Cropper received a B.A. in Economics from Bryn Mawr College (summa cum laude, 1969) and a Ph.D. in Economics from Cornell University (1973).

For further information on the presentation, contact Jon Strand at:, 202-458-5122

The Joint Bank-Fund Brown-Bag Research Seminars on Environment and Energy is a joint initiative between the Development Research Group, Environment and Energy Team (DECEE), World Bank, and the Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF. Organizers of the series are Jon Strand (DECEE), and Ruud de Mooij and Ian Parry (FAD/IMF). The seminars are held at lunch time, normally once every two weeks, alternately in the Bank and Fund. Aims of the seminars are to raise attention to, and interest in, environment, energy and natural resources issues in both institutions; to promote the interaction between the two institutions in these fields; and to improve the institutions' common work on policy.

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