Standards to address global climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants can spur significant improvements to public health and the environment by also curbing other emissions and pollution biproducts, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, mercury, soot, and smog. For human health, these pollutants increase the risk of premature death, hospitalizations, and heart attacks.
Scientists from Syracuse, Harvard, and Boston Universities used a reference case and three alternative policy scenarios to quantify the effect of each policy scenario on air-quality derived health benefits. They determined that a policy addressing both power plant emissions and end-user electricity efficiency provided the largest benefits. With this policy, cleaner air would save 3,500 lives in the U.S. each year. Also 1,000 hospital admissions would be avoided and 220 heart attacks would be prevented each year in the U.S.