Health and related economic benefits associated with reduction in air pollution during COVID-19 outbreak in 367 cities in China

Michelle L. Bell and 10 other contributors

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    Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chinese government implemented nationwide traffic restrictions and selfquarantine measures from January 23 to April 8 (in Wuhan), 2020. We estimated how these measures impacted ambient air pollution and the subsequent consequences on health and the health-related economy in 367 Chinese cities. A random forests modeling was used to predict the business-as-usual air pollution concentrations in 2020, after adjusting for the impact of long-term trend and weather conditions. We calculated changes in mortality attributable to reductions in air pollution in early 2020 and health-related economic benefits based on the value of statistical life (VSL). Compared with the business-as-usual scenario, we estimated 1239 (95% CI: 844-1578) PM2.5-related deaths were avoided, as were 2777 (95% CI: 1565-3995) PM10-related deaths, 1587 (95% CI: 98-3104) CO-related deaths, 4711 (95% CI: 3649-5781) NO2-related deaths, 215 (95% CI: 116-314) O3-related deaths, and 1088 (95% CI: 774-1421) SO2-related deaths. Based on the reduction in deaths, economic benefits for in PM2.5, PM10, CO, NO2, O3, and SO2 were 1.22, 2.60, 1.36, 4.05, 0.20, and 0.95 billion USD, respectively. Our findings demonstrate the substantial benefits in human health and health-related costs due to improved urban air quality during the COVID lockdown period in China in early 2020.