Citing a lack of information, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prudently did not account for the benefits of averting many chronic diseases in analyzing the Worker Protection Standards (WPS) revisions. We demonstrate that sufficient information can exist, using the example of the benefits to agricultural workers of reduced Parkinson’s disease (PD) due to reduced pesticide exposure. We define the benefits as the monetary value gained by improving quality of lives of people who would otherwise develop PD, plus the value of medical care cost averted and income not lost due to being healthy. For estimation, we use readily available parameters and obtain odds ratios of developing PD by conducting a meta-analysis of studies linking pesticide exposure to PD. The sensitivity analysis varies the number of agricultural workers affected by the regulation, the probability of being diagnosed with PD, the measurement and the timing of the benefits. Our initial assessment is that the reduced PD benefits would be a small fraction of the total WPS revision costs. However, if we define benefits as the common environmental economics willingness to pay to avoid PD incidence, then they become a substantial fraction of the costs. Our analysis demonstrates that the benefits of averting PD from the WPS revisions can be estimated using existing information, and that the results are most sensitive to the choice of valuation of benefits to the worker. We encourage other researchers to extend our framework to other chronic ailments.
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