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Health Risks and Economic Costs of Absenteeism Due to Air Pollution in São Paulo, Brazil

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Volume: 12 | Issue: 5 | Pages: 826-833
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2011.12.0235
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Fernando Rodrigues-Silva1, Ubiratan de Paula Santos1, Paulo Hilário Nascimento Saldiva1, Luis Fernando Amato-Lourenço1, Simone Georges El Khouri Miraglia 2

  • 1 Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo – FMUSP, sala 1220, Av. Dr. Arnaldo 445, CEP: 01246-903, São Paulo, SP, Brazil
  • 2 Universidade Federal de São Paulo – UNIFESP, Departamento de Ciências Exatas e da Terra - Setor de Engenharia Química, R. Prof. Artur Riedel, 275 - Jd. Eldorado, CEP: 09972-270, Diadema, SP, Brazil


This study aims to estimate the health risks and economic losses due to the effects of air pollution, with a focus on traffic controllers, and to estimate the associated costs through the use of work loss days (WLD) as an indicator of morbidity in São Paulo from 2000 to 2007. The association between traffic controllers’ absenteeism and air pollution was determined by generalized linear models (GLM). The increase in relative risk for WLD was 2.08 (95% CI: 2.04–2.12) per 10 μg/m3 PM10, which in monetary terms represented 9,430 USD/year, equivalent to 133 absences per 1,308 traffic controllers annually that are attributable to air pollution (accumulated total cost was USD 75,439, which was 19% of the company’s operational expenses during the period). These results were extrapolated for the economically active population, and we found that air pollution resulted in 129,832 absences/year and a cost of USD 6,472,686 (77% related to lost wages) per 3,555,237 workers. The estimated values are relevant for planning environmental policies, and are sufficient to promote corrective and preventive actions to avoid this externality.


PM10 Valuation Work loss days Mobile sources Health effects/risks

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