Discussion Paper

The Health Effects of Coal Electricity Generation in India

Jun 26, 2012 | Maureen L. Cropper, Shama Gamkhar, Kabir Malik, Alex Limonov, Ian Partridge


To help inform pollution control policies in the Indian electricity sector we estimate the health damages associated with particulate matter, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from individual coal-fired power plants. We calculate the damages per ton of pollutant for each of 89 plants and compute total damages in 2008, by pollutant, for 63 plants. We estimate health damages by combining data on power plant emissions of particulate matter, SO2 and NOx with reduced-form intake fraction models that link emissions to changes in population-weighted ambient concentrations of fine particles. Concentration-response functions for fine particles from Pope et al. (2002) are used to estimate premature cardiopulmonary deaths associated with air emissions for persons 30 and older. Our results suggest that 75 percent of premature deaths are associated with fine particles that result from SO2 emissions. After characterizing the distribution of premature mortality across plants we calculate the health benefits and cost-per-life saved of the flue-gas desulfurization unit installed at the Dahanu power plant in Maharashtra and the health benefits of coal washing at the Rihand power plant in Uttar Pradesh.