Abstract

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) damage human activities and health. While there is wide literature on economic losses, little is known about the economic impact on human health. In this review, we systematically retrieved papers which presented health costs following exposure to HABs. A systematic review was conducted up to January 2019 in databases such as ScienceDirect and PubMed, and 16 studies were selected. Health costs included healthcare and medication expenses, loss of income due to illness, cost of pain and suffering, and cost of death. Two categories of illness (digestive and respiratory) were considered for health costs. For digestive illness cost, we found $86, $1,015 and $12,605, respectively, for mild, moderate and severe cases. For respiratory illness, costs were $86, $1,235 and $14,600, respectively, for mild, moderate and severe cases. We used Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) to access the loss of well-being due to illness caused by HABs. We found that breathing difficulty causes the most loss of QALYs, especially in children, with a loss of between 0.16 and 0.771 per child. Having gastroenteritis could cause a loss of between 2.2 and 7.1 QALYs per 1,000 children. Misleading symptoms of illness following exposure to HABs could cause bias in health costs estimations.

You do not currently have access to this content.