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Grantee Research Project Results
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research
Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program
CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY
Valuation of Environmental Impacts on Human Health
January 31, 2001
Closing Date: May 14, 2001
Part 1. Valuation of Environmental
Impacts on Childrens Health
Part 2. Valuation of Delayed-Onset and Related Health Risks
NOTE TO APPLICANTS: Each of the two parts of this solicitation (Parts 1 and 2) will be evaluated separately. Applicants must clearly specify in their sorting code selection to which part they are applying. Applicants wishing to apply to both parts must submit separate proposals.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), in cooperation with the EPA Office of Childrens Health Protection (OCHP) announces the second year of an extramural grants competition supporting research leading to improved valuation of environmental effects on human health.
EPA has supported similar socio-economic research in prior years through the EPA/NSF joint program on Decision-making and Valuation for Environmental Policy, and through the 2000 Valuation of Childrens Health Solicitation. Also, this year EPA plans to issue a solicitation addressing environmental behavior, government intervention, and incentives, subject to available funding. Additionally, EPA is issuing solicitations for research to characterize the effects of various environmental factors on childrens health. Information on announcements and awards made in these competitions may be found on the Internet at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa.
Because decisions on health protection often require benefit-cost analysis, or related economic assessments, EPA is interested in sponsoring economic valuation research that will enhance the ability of all public and private stakeholders to evaluate policies and actions which may protect people from environmental health threats. In this solicitation EPA is requesting research proposals that develop theoretical and/or empirical methods and data to better value (1) the health risks to children from environmental sources, or (2) health risks with delayed onset, severe and long-term health consequences, such as cancer. EPA is particularly interested in research that pertains to its mission: protection of the health of people, particularly children, from toxic substances and microbial threats in the air, surface, ground, or drinking water, and/or in land or materials with which children, particularly, may come in contact.
The competition encourages proposals from researchers from all behavioral, social, and economic sciences. It encourages collaborations with non-social science disciplines when needed to answer important social science questions. It will support both research conducted within a single disciplinary tradition, and encourages novel, collaborative, and interdisciplinary scientific efforts.
In April 1997 President Clinton signed Executive Order 13045, Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks, to ensure that federal health and safety regulations recognize and explicitly account for risks to children. Existing analyses generally have not evaluated children separately from adults because there rarely has been a scientific basis for identifying distinct or more pronounced health effects for children. To compound the analytical difficulty, economic valuation studies have focused on individual adults willingness to pay to reduce risks to themselves, not children. However, recent research has shown that children differ from adults in both the kind and the severity of environmentally-induced adverse health effects. While valuing reductions in adverse childrens health effects is increasingly critical for selecting appropriate risk-reducing policies and actions, information is extremely limited about both the adverse effects of environmental risks to children, and the value of reducing these risks. This solicitation focuses on improved understanding of the latter issue, valuation of reducing health risks to children.
A separate conceptual issue is that existing economic valuation literature is based primarily on the concept of individual consumer willingness-to-pay (WTP) for marginal changes in circumstances that affect each persons own well-being. Economic analyses customarily assume fully informed and rational consumer behavior when making choices involving risk tradeoffs. Children, particularly young children, often lack the experience and resources - including information, judgment, and income - to indicate a meaningful willingness to pay. The resources and preferences of some other party generally provide the correct basis for estimating benefits. Therefore, analysis of policies affecting childrens health typically cannot rely on individual willingness to pay as a measure of benefits.
To promote research that would enhance economic valuation of reducing environmental risks to childrens health, EPA requests applications for research funding in two areas: parental and societal willingness to pay (WTP) for reductions in (1) morbidity and (2) mortality risks to childrens health. All proposals should clearly identify the environmental stressors and resulting health effects that will be investigated, as well as the attributes of children (as children and as future adults) that are altered by those effects. Examples of such attributes include intelligence, fertility, mobility, and life expectancy. Emphasis should be on development of empirical research and data.
This solicitation seeks research to estimate both parental and societal WTP to reduce environmental health risks to children. Generally, parents are best situated to know and to care about their childrens health and well being, and are accustomed to facing economic tradeoffs with respect to their children. As a result, parental willingness to pay provides a natural starting point for benefit estimation. However, society has also indicated a willingness to forgo resources to protect all children, e.g., publicly-funded immunization programs, so non-parental or altruistic willingness to pay for childrens health protection is also an appropriate focus for research.
This years Valuation of Childrens Health solicitation requests proposals addressing threats to childrens health that are both immediate and life-long. Of particular interest is development of estimates of WTP to protect children from (a) childhood cancers, (b) incidence of food- or water-borne pathogenic illnesses, and (c) diseases, both fatal and non-fatal, that may manifest in adulthood as a result of childhood exposure to toxins or pathogens.
Proposals should clearly identify where outcomes are specific to certain health endpoints, and to the robustness of results with respect to different health endpoints. Research proposals should address the objectives below:
1. Development of methods and data to measure the value of reducing morbidity and mortality risks to childrens health using both established and novel techniques of non-market valuation.Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals that achieve more than one of these objectives and involve experts from economics and other disciplines.
2. Explanation of the role of household income, family composition, parental education, access to insurance and health care, and other factors affecting parents willingness to pay to protect the current and future health of their children.
Examples of related research questions:
What is the value for reducing fatal risks to children and how does it compare to a similar value for adults? What is the value of lost school days, reduced intelligence, or other measures of child morbidity values?The results of this research are expected to inform federal and state policy-makers in both executive and legislative capacities, as well as members of regulated communities, the academic community, and public interest groups, all of whom will be stakeholders and participants in the debate on uses of childrens health valuation results.
What are the roles of age, dependency, ongoing development, and unknown future potential of children in affecting how valuation of potential long-term effects is derived?
What is the role of family structure (e.g., presence or absence of, or number of children in household) on the valuation of childrens health?
Applicants are encouraged to avail
themselves of information in the following sources during preparation
of proposals. In addition to the ORD/NCER grants programs
noted above, (see: http://www.epa.gov/ncerqa),
other EPA programs have an interest in research and policy development
related to childrens health and valuation. Information on
activities of the Office of Childrens Health Protection, a partner
in this solicitation, can be found at http://www.epa.gov/children/.
The National Center for Environmental Economics of the Office of
Policy, Economics and Innovation has conducted and compiled a number
of health valuation related studies, see: http://www.epa.gov/economics/.
See particularly the results of a workshop on health valuation at:
Funding for Part 1
EPA anticipates making approximately
five to ten awards for Part 1, totaling about $1 million.
The projected range is from $50,000 to $200,000 per award per year,
with durations from 1 to 3 years. Field experiments, survey
research, and multi-investigator projects may justify the higher
funding level. Awards made through this competition will depend
on the availability of funds.
When many environmental policies are implemented, exposures to environmental contaminants are reduced. The health benefit of implementing these policies is an immediate reduction in the risk of the adverse health effects associated with exposure. The total value of this benefit is the aggregate willingness-to-pay for the risk reduction across the affected population. The ideal assessment of the value would include direct measurement of the affected populations willingness-to-pay at the time of the exposure reduction for the reduction in risk, even if morbidity and/or mortality would not occur immediately.
Accurate measures of benefits of avoiding delayed-onset morbidity and mortality have not yet been established for a number of reasons. Risks are rarely understood by the public and conveyance of estimates of risk is a nascent science. How people evaluate a delay, or the length of delay, of disease onset is poorly understood. Moreover, it is unclear how the periods of severe and prolonged disability that often accompany delayed onset illnesses affect individual perceptions of the disease or what role these perceptions and any associated fear or dread may play in the valuation of risk. Finally, the actual physical risks stemming from exposure to a disease-causing agent are often unknown, uncertain, or highly variable.
Complicating factors influencing valuation include both risk and population characteristics. Risk characteristics that may affect valuations of health risks include: timing of the premature fatality, the nature of the associated morbidity and the dread and/or fear associated with the risk, voluntariness and controllability of the risk, the public vs. private nature of the risk (and resulting considerations of altruistic preferences), and other psychological factors that may affect risk perceptions. Population characteristics include: income, risk attitudes, age, and health status of the affected population. Health risks may differ across all of these factors and, consequently, so may preferences and willingness-to-pay.
This solicitation requests proposals for both theoretical and empirical research that will improve researchers ability to identify and establish reliable values for avoiding immediate exposure to risks of delayed-onset morbidity and/or mortality, such as cancer.
Research supported by this solicitation will address methods to value avoidance of future health risks in the present and will address the effects of one or more of the following influences on the valuation of avoided risks of cancer or similar diseases:
delay and length of delay of the onset of symptoms;Award Process for Part 2
dread of severe morbidity or debilitation;
risk characteristics (for examples, see above); and
population characteristics (for examples, see above).
Because relatively little research
has been done in describing preferences for, and developing values
for, avoiding delayed onset health risks, EPA seeks to ensure that
projects funded under this solicitation have a sound theoretical
basis. EPA is seeking proposals that will first, develop a sound
and defensible theoretical basis for valuing delayed-onset and perhaps
dreaded health effects such as cancer, and, only after the theoretical
framework is established, investigate analytical methodologies (e.g.,
revealed preference, stated preference) and data needed for related
hypothesis testing. EPA expects the first year of projects
funded under this solicitation to be largely devoted to developing
and seeking review of a theoretical basis for valuing the avoidance
of risk for delayed-onset illness, and for initial development of
frameworks for empirical analysis. At the end of the first
year of funding, EPA will convene a meeting of funded researchers
and other outside experts to discuss the theoretical developments.
Funding for Part 2
Part II. EPA anticipates making approximately
five to ten awards, totaling about $1 million, with awards averaging
$50,000 to $200,000 per year for up to three years. Awards
made through this competition will depend on the availability of
Academic and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and state or local governments, are eligible under all existing authorizations. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive grants from EPA under this program. Federal agencies and national laboratories funded by federal agencies (Federally-funded Research and Development Centers, FFRDCs) may not apply.
Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on a grant. FFRDC employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations. They may participate in planning, conducting, and analyzing the research directed by the principal investigator, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization or principal investigator. The principal investigator's institution may provide funds through its grant from EPA to a FFRDC for research personnel, supplies, equipment, and other expenses directly related to the research. However, salaries for permanent FFRDC employees may not be provided through this mechanism.
Federal employees may not receive salaries or in other ways augment their agency's appropriations through grants made by this program. However, federal employees may interact with grantees so long as their involvement is not essential to achieving the basic goals of the grant.1 The principal investigators institution may also enter into an agreement with a federal agency to purchase or utilize unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector. Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, analyses, or use of instrumentation or other facilities not available elsewhere, etc. A written justification for federal involvement must be included in the application, along with an assurance from the federal agency involved which commits it to supply the specified service.
1EPA encourages interaction between its own laboratory scientists and grant principal investigators for the sole purpose of exchanging information in research areas of common interest that may add value to their respective research activities. However, this interaction must be incidental to achieving the goals of the research under a grant. Interaction that is "incidental" is not reflected in a research proposal and involves no resource commitments.
Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Jack Puzak in NCER, phone (202) 564-6825, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
STANDARD INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION
A set of special instructions on how applicants should apply for an NCER grant is found on the NCER web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application and the necessary forms for an application also will be found on this web site.
The need for sorting codes to be used in the application and for mailing is described in the Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application. The sorting codes for applications submitted in response to this solicitation are
for Valuation of Childrens Health and
2001-STAR-N2 for Valuation of Delayed Onset Health Risks.
The deadline for receipt of the application by NCER is no later than 4:00 p.m. ET, May 14, 2001.
The application must include a plan to make available all data (including primary and secondary data) from observations, analyses, or model development under a grant awarded in this program in a format and with documentation such that they can be utilized by others in the scientific community. The data must be made available to the project officer without restriction and be accompanied by comprehensive metadata documentation adequate for specialists and non-specialist alike to be able to understand how and where the data were obtained and to evaluate the quality of the data. The data products and their metadata must be provided to the project officer in standard exchange format no later than the due date of the grants final report or the publication of the data products associated results, whichever comes first. Applicants who develop databases containing proprietary or restricted information should provide a strategy, not to exceed two pages, to make the data widely available, while protecting privacy or property rights. These pages are in addition to the 15 pages permitted for the project description.
Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA officials indicated below. Email inquiries are preferred.
Dr. Matthew Clark
EPA National Center for Environmental Research
fax (202) 565-2447, voice (202) 564-6842