Researchers at UC San Diego and Columbia University have established a link between air pollution and reduced productivity among outdoor and indoor agricultural workers. They found that every 10-microgram per cubic metre increase in PM2.5 levels decreased worker productivity by 0.6 per cent.
Moreover, the effect increased at higher PM2.5 levels. The levels investigated were all well below the current US air quality standard of 35 microgrammes PM2.5/m3 as a daily mean.
One major implication of the study is that reductions of PM2.5 can have significant economic benefits. The authors estimate that across the entire US manufacturing sector, reductions in PM2.5 since 1997 have led to aggregate labour savings of US$19.5 billion – apreviously unrecognised benefit of fine particulate regulation.
Source: Washington Post, 10 March 2014.