Carnegie Mellon University
June 05, 2020

Air pollution, simplified

Researchers from CMU’s College of Engineering, including EPP Interim Department Head Peter Adams and EPP Professor Nick Muller, are part of a collaboration that has created easy-to-use tools to estimate the societal costs of air pollution.

new study recently published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, compares these tools, called “reduced complexity models” (RCMs), and verifies that they can be used to give accurate estimates. And, importantly, the tools are simple enough to use that a much broader community—from city planners to citizens’ groups, state regulators to affected industries—will have access to estimating the social costs of air pollution.

The results were so encouraging to Peter Adams, lead author of the study, that he says “RCMs are ready for primetime.”

“We’re at the point where you can now go to our website, download RCM results, and in an afternoon of spreadsheet work start to estimate social costs,” said Adams. “Nobody should do an energy-systems analysis anymore where they stop their analysis at changes in emissions. It’s now easy to estimate the health costs or benefits.”

To read more about how using RCMs furthers our understanding of the impact of air pollution on society, go here.