Air quality experts: Economics

Eric Sjoberg (Economics)

Eric Sjoberg is an assistant professor of economics. Sjoberg and graduate student Derek Hackmann published a study in the journal Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health in June 2016 that found cumulative exposure to fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) during the first trimester of pregnancy reduces gestational age and increases the risk of preterm birth. Preterm births have been estimated to account for up to one-third of all infant deaths in the U.S. and pose a risk of both short- and long-term complications. The study of 7,224 births in Utah between 2009-2012 found the effects are larger as cumulative exposure increases; in addition, the study found cumulative exposure plays a larger role than intensive exposure. The finding indicates that, from a pregnancy perspective, policies that decrease average pollution levels can be more effective than policies targeted at peak pollution.