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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Cost of Crop Damage Caused by Ozone Air Pollution From Motor Vehicles


The detrimental effects of ambient ozone on crops, even at relatively low concentrations, are well-established (Thompson et al., 1976; Heck and Brandt, 1977; Heck et al., 1982; Environmental Protection Agency, 1984; California Air Resources Board, 1987; Olszyk et al., 1988a, 1988b; Heagle et al., 1986; McCool et al., 1986, Ashmore, 1991). Ozone enters plant leaves through the stomatal openings in the leaf surface and then produces byproducts that reduce the efficiency of photosynthesis (CARB, 1987). Research suggests that ozone, either alone or in combination with nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, may be responsible for up to 90 percent of U.S. crop losses resulting from air pollution (Heck et al., 1982). In an effort to address this problem, the Clean Air Act and its amendments include air pollution damages to vegetation as one of the criteria by which secondary national ambient air quality standards are evaluated (Adams et al., 1984).

There is, of course, an economic cost associated with this reduced productivity. In this paper we use a formal model of agricultural production and demand to estimate the cost of crop damage1 due to all anthropogenic ozone air pollution, and to ozone air pollution attributable to motor-vehicle use in the U. S. in 1990.

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