Children are generally more susceptible than adults to environmental hazards, but little is known about the economic burden of illnesses related to these hazards.
To learn more, Tracking California conducted an analysis to estimate the cost of four childhood conditions related to the environment in California: asthma, cancer, lead exposures, and neurobehavioral disorders.
As described in our report, we found that preventable environmental hazards are responsible for a significant health and economic burden on children and families in California.
This report was completed as a deliverable to the CDC's National Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) Program, as part of their Economic Burden of Childhood Environmental Illnesses Project. The project was led by Tracking California, with participation from other EPHT-funded programs in Connecticut, Florida, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Utah.
The objective of this multi-state effort was to provide decision-makers with a better understanding of the impact of the environment on children's health and to consider the economic benefits of pollution prevention in future policies and programs.
The National EPHT program provides data on environmental hazards, exposures, and health outcomes to better understand how they are related to one another.
Costs of each condition per individual case x Number of cases x Proportion of cases attributable to the environment = Total costs due to the environment
We estimated costs annually and over the lifetime. California state data sources were used when available, and cost estimates were inflated to match the value of the dollar in 2013.
To determine what proportion of each condition was related to preventable environment hazards, we utilized a concept called the EAF (environmental attributable fraction), which estimates the percentage of the health condition that is related to the environment and preventable. For this study, we calculated California-specific EAF estimates for asthma and cancer, the first time this has been done for California. For neurobehavioral disorders, we used the EAF estimate from Landrigan et al. For lead exposures, the EAF is 100% since this condition is related entirely to a preventable environmental hazard.
We found that preventable environmental hazards are responsible for a significant health and economic burden on children and families in California.
In examining the environmentally-related costs of four childhood health conditions, we found that:
In addition to saving $254 million annually and $10-13 billion over the lifetime of all children born within a single year in California, eliminating preventable environmental hazards could:
Articles and reports on the cost of environmental health conditions in children
Resources on health conditions
This publication was supported by the Cooperative Agreement Number 2 U38 EH000953-04, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.