Average annual asthma cost: $4,063

If you’re on the fence about buying an air purifier because of cost, and you or someone in your home has asthma, here’s something to consider: The total annual costs resulting from a “typical” case of childhood asthma add up to $4,063 per year, at least in Riverside, Calif. That’s the conclusion of credible new research conducted by a team of economists. The annual figure includes medical costs as well as indirect costs such as asthma-related school absences. When kids miss school, parents and caregivers miss work, adding to the costs. In comparison, an air purifier, even the world’s best air purifier (theIQAir HealthPro Plus), costs only a fraction of what asthma can cost in a single year.

The newest study was conducted in Long Beach, Calif., and Riverside, both cities with elevated levels of air pollution and many freeways that are near the places where people live. The researchers were able to count cases related specifically to traffic air pollution, and concluded that almost half of all new asthma cases are the result of traffic-related pollution. They also concluded that each episode of bronchitic symptoms (daily cough, congestion or phlegm, or bronchitis for three months in a row) cost over $900.

The research was led by Sylvia Brandt, Ph.D., a resource economist from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Southern California and the University of Basel, Switzerland. The results were published last week in the online publication, “European Respiratory Journal.”

Brandt is also involved in research that focuses on cross-cultural willingness to pay for children’s health. “Questions of environmental policy often become questions about money: money for healthcare programs, money to retrofit polluting factories, etc.,” she says in her official biography. “Families with children who have asthma are bearing a high cost,” Brandt said in announcing the results of the new study. She pointed out that the asthma costs identified in the Long Beach and Riverside families she studied represent about 7 percent of median household income in those communities. She noted that health care costs higher than 5 percent of a family’s income are considered to be unsustainable.

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