All posts tagged: bad air

Air Pollution Is a Creeping Tax on American Life

Air Pollution Is a Creeping Tax on American Life

It feels like a sin against the sanctitude of being alive to put a dollar value on one year of a human life. A year spent living instead of dead is obviously priceless, beyond the measure of something so unprofound as money. But it gets a price tag in the world of economic models. Different agencies and organizations use different estimates—no one can seem to agree on the precise going rate. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency, a statistical lifetime is valued at about $11.5 million in 2024 dollars. By one new analysis, that translates to about $250,000 per year of living. That’s important to know, because the EPA is in the business of calculating how much money is lost or saved by preventing people’s early demise through various environmental regulations. Making contaminated water safer and dirty air cleaner costs money, but the country also benefits financially by keeping people alive. In the EPA’s own language, the agency simply estimates how much people are willing to pay to reduce their risk of dying from …