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NC State Extension Economist Dr. Mike Walden – “Pollution and Productivity”


Mary:  I’m Mary Walden, with economist MW, welcoming you to the economic perspective. Today’s program looks at pollution and productivity.  Mike, our country has long been concerned about pollution for its detrimental effects on the environment and on health.  But do we have any evidence that pollution can also reduce worker productivity and therefore slow our economic growth rate?

Mike:  Summary Answer

  1. Have had several studies showing how air pollution lowers the work pace of people working outside at hard physical labor
  2. But now have a new study showing the same for office workers
  3. Might expect that office workers are sheltered from pollution
  4. But some pollutants can actually penetrate indoors and be absorbed into the bloodstream
  5. A study of a call center operating where pollution significantly increased found the # of calls workers handled per hour fell when pollution increased
  6. So pollution’s adverse impacts may be broader than previously thought
  7. I’m MW

Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service