Economic Effects of Air Pollution

Elephant Trail in Big Bend National Park, Texas
Park visitation is largely dependent on protection of natural and scenic resources that draw visitors to national parks in the first place.

Economics gives us a way to compare the possible benefits of a policy with its possible costs.

Ecosystems in national park areas give us goods and services such as cleaner air, nutrient cycling, and fun outdoor experiences that are important to human health and well-being. These goods and services are called ecosystem services. Air pollutants can have harmful effects on ecosystem services. Understanding ecosystems as natural resources with economic and social value can help support conservation and more responsible decision-making.

Multiple studies show that people place an economic value on, or a “willingness to pay” for, better visibility (
What is a Clear View Worth?). These economic benefits are usually a part of the cost-benefit analyses for air quality regulations.

Economic benefits from visiting parks depend on protection of park natural resources, including air quality.
Visitor spending in communities around national park sites was estimated at 11.9 billion dollars in 2009. Visitor surveys regularly show that visitors think clean, clear air is extremely important.

Last updated: August 21, 2019


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