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Toxic Exposure in America: Estimating Fetal and Infant Health Outcomes

We examine the effect of toxic exposure on U.S. infant and fetal mortality rates between 1989 and 2002 from toxic pollution released by facilities reporting to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). Unlike previous studies, we control for toxic pollution from mobile sources and from non-TRI reporting facilities. We find significant adverse effects of TRI exposure on infant mortality. There is evidence that health effects vary across media: air and water having a larger impact than land pollution. And, within air, we find that releases of carcinogens are particularly problematic for infant health outcomes. We estimate that the average county-level decreases in TRI concentrations between 1988 and 2002 saved in excess of 13,800 infant lives.

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