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Dose-response functions measure the relationship between exposure to pollution as a cause and specific outcomes as an effect. They refer to damages/production losses incurred in the current year, regardless of when the pollution occurs.

A mathematical relationship is established which relates how much a certain amount of pollution impacts on production, capital, ecosystems, human health etc. By relating a specific measure of an environmental impact to a measure of pollution exposure while controlling for other factors, the role of pollution in causing the environmental impact can be estimated. This estimate can then be used to predict the environmental improvement (deterioration) corresponding to a decrease (increase) in exposure.

Dose-response functions come in a variety of forms, which may be linear or non-linear and may or may not contain thresholds (levels of exposure above which damages increase sharply). For example, those describing effects of various air pollutants on agriculture have proved to be particularly complex, incorporating both positive and negative effects, because of the potential for certain pollutants (for example, those containing sulphur and nitrogen) to act as fertilisers. Ideally these functions and other models are derived from epidemiological studies which study the observed effects of pollutants on actual populations of people, crops, etc., rather than relying on simulations.

Source Publication:
United Nations, European Commission, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Bank , 2005, Handbook of National Accounting: Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting 2003, Studies in Methods, Series F, No.61, Rev.1, Glossary, United Nations, New York, paras. 9.58 & 9.59.

Statistical Theme: Environmental statistics

Created on Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Last updated on Wednesday, November 30, 2005