Analyzing the Relationship Between Bus Pollution Policies and Morbidity Using a Quasi-Experiment

Abstract

Transit buses are used by millions of commuters every day, but they emit toxic diesel fumes. In 1988, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency implemented emission standards for transit buses, which have been continually updated. Yet there is no quantitative evidence of the health benefits from these bus pollution policies due to data constraints and confounding variables. In this study, a quasi-experiment is used to exploit the geographic and temporal variation in emission standards by using bus vintage as a proxy for bus emissions. This is accomplished using a unique, rich panel data set, which includes daily information on bus vintage and route for the New York City Transit bus fleet between 2006 and 2009. This information is merged with daily data on emergency department (ED) visits for respiratory illnesses, which include patients' residences at the census block level and exact admission date. Economic benefits resulting from these bus pollution policies are then estimated. Results show that stricter transit bus emission standards by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for particulate matter are associated with reduced ED visits for respiratory diseases for patients living within a few hundred feet of a bus route. These findings demonstrate that bus pollution policies have made critical improvements to public health.

DOI: 10.1097/MD.0000000000001499

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@inproceedings{Ngo2015AnalyzingTR, title={Analyzing the Relationship Between Bus Pollution Policies and Morbidity Using a Quasi-Experiment}, author={Nicole S. Ngo and Bing-Fang Hwang.}, booktitle={Medicine}, year={2015} }