Resource allocation for mitigating regional air pollution–related mortality: A summertime case study for five cities in the United States

An important issue of regional air quality management is to allocate air quality management funds to maximize environmental and human health benefits. In this study, we use an innovative approach to tackle this air quality management issue. We develop an innovative resource allocation model that allows identification of air pollutant emission control strategies that maximize mortality avoidances subject to a resource constraint. We first present the development of the resource allocation model and then a case study to show how the model can be used to identify resource allocation strategies that maximize mortality avoidances for top five Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) (i.e., New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Philadelphia) in the continental United States collectively. Given budget constraints in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Air Act assessment, the results of the case study suggest that controls of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and primary carbon (PC) emissions from EPA Regions 2, 3, 5, 6, and 9 would have significant health benefits for the five selected cities collectively. Around 30,800 air pollution–related mortalities could be avoided during the selected 2-week summertime episode for the five cities collectively if the budget could be allocated based on the results of the resource allocation model. Although only five U.S. cities during a 2-week episode are considered in the case study, the resource allocation model can be used by decision-makers to plan air pollution mitigation strategies to achieve the most significant health benefits for other seasons and more cities over a region or the continental U.S.Implications: Effective allocations of air quality management resources are challenging and complicated, and it is desired to have a tool that can help decision-makers better allocate the funds to maximize health benefits of air pollution mitigation. An innovative resource allocation model developed in this study can help decision-makers identify the best resource allocation strategies for multiple cities collectively. The results of a case study suggest that controls of primary carbon and sulfur dioxides emissions would achieve the most significant health benefits for five selected cities collectively.