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Abstract

Wildfire seasons are becoming longer and more intense throughout the world, making it increasingly important to monetize the full damages caused by wildfires when analyzing various fire management policies. We estimate the economic costs of the health effects associated with exposure to wildfire smoke using a simple cost of illness approach and for the first time to our knowledge we estimate willingness-to-pay (WTP) for a decrease in symptom days from wildfire smoke using the contingent valuation method and the averting behavior method. Comparing estimates across all three common approaches for estimating the economic cost of exposure to an air pollutant is an important contribution to the literature. This study uses data from the largest wildfire in Los Angeles County’s modern history, the Station Fire of 2009. Our results show that a simple cost of illness estimate is about $3 per day of symptoms, the averting behavior method results in a WTP value of $43 or $94 to avoid one day of wildfire-smoke induced symptom days, depending on the model used, and the contingent valuation method results in a WTP estimate of $74 - $98 to avoid one day of wildfire-smoke induced symptom days, depending on model specification.

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