Premature deaths, hospital visits, and missed days of school and work are among the serious health-related impacts of air pollution in California’s San Joaquin Valley that drain the region’s economy of $3 billion every year, according to a new study conducted by leading researchers in the fields of economics and air quality.
Funded by a Hewlett Foundation grant, the study is the first to put a price tag on air pollution in the Central Valley and demonstrate the potential benefits to public health and the economy that would come from attaining federal clean air standards.

The results of the study were announced at a news conference in Fresno on March 29, and the report was covered by a variety of news organizations, including Forbes magazine, Reuters, the Los Angeles Times, the Stockton Record, and the NPR radio program, The California Report.

The study was authored by Professors Jane Hall and Victor Brajer of California State University, Fullerton and Fred Lurmann, president of the research firm Sonoma Technology, Inc. The California Endowment also provided support for the dissemination of the research.

“This study shows how much is at stake for the people of the Central Valley who are living with the adverse health effects of air pollution in their region,” said Hal Harvey, Director of the Environment Program at the Hewlett Foundation. “The findings also indicate the enormous health and economic benefits of addressing the problem.”

The research was funded through the Hewlett Foundation’s New Constituencies for the Environment initiative, which focuses on the needs of communities whose environmental concerns have often been underrepresented. This initiative recognizes that the growing ethnic communities in California’s Central Valley and greater Los Angeles bear a disproportionate burden of pollution in the state. The Foundation is working to address this inequity by supporting research and strengthening environmental leadership in the region.