Health and Superfund
I belatedly happened across an interesting paper by Michael Greenstone. The Abstract summarizes the key finding:
We are the first to examine the effect of Superfund cleanups on infant health rather than focusing on proximity to a site. We study singleton births to mothers residing within 5km of a Superfund site between 1989-2003 in five large states. Our “difference in differences” approach compares birth outcomes before and after a site clean-up for mothers who live within 2,000 meters of the site and those who live between 2,000- 5,000 meters of a site. We find that proximity to a Superfund site before cleanup is associated with a 20 to 25% increase in the risk of congenital anomalies.
That’s a striking finding: a 20-25% increase in birth defects near Superfund sites prior to clean-up.
Greenstone is an MIT economist who can’t be accused of being an environmentalist cheerleader — for example, his most recent paper argues that cook stoves may not deliver their promised benefits to the global poor or to the environment. So the Superfund finding has a certain degree of credibility.
Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…READ more