A new analysis of greenery and mortality found that between 34,000 and 38,000 deaths could be reduced by a local increase in green vegetation in the capital’s United States.

Growing green in urban areas in the United States could significantly reduce all-cause mortality, according to a new study led by Boston University researchers in public health.

Published in the magazine Boundaries in public healththe national study found that increasing green vegetation in large metropolitan areas could prevent between 34,000-38,000 deaths based on data from 2000-2019. The study also showed that total greenery in metro areas has increased. increased over the last 20 years, by nearly 3 percent between 2000-2010 and 11 percent between 2010-2019.

The study is based on validated research on the health benefits of greenery, providing quantitative value on the potential impact of urban landscaping initiatives on mortality.

“We know that living in greener areas can have a positive impact on our physical and mental health, but there is no data on how changes in the distribution of greenery can affect mortality across the country,” said lead author Paige Brochu. . , PhD student in the Department of Environmental Health. “Our study quantifies the impact of urban sprawl on urban areas and shows how increasing green vegetation can potentially increase life expectancy. Politicians and urban professionals can use this information to support local climate action plans and ensure that these plans include greening initiatives. “

For the study, Brochu and colleagues used publicly available census data from the U.S. Census, mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control’s WONDER system, and landscaping data from NASA’s Landsat satellites to assess the health impact of the whole country, which assessed the increased impact of green vegetation on all causes. mortality among adults aged 65 and over in 35 major metropolitan areas of the United States. The study period focused on three separate time periods over a 20-year period: 2000, 2010 and 2019. Using the Normalized Vegetation Difference Index (NDVI), a widely used indicator that measures the amount of green vegetation, the researchers calculated, that 34,080 -38,187 elderly deaths – or about 15 to 20 deaths per 10,000 adults – could have been prevented between 2000-2019 with a 0.1 increase in NDVI in all 35 metropolitan areas.

They estimate that total greenery increased by 2.86 percent between 2000-2010 and 11.11 percent from 2010-2019, with the largest regional increase in the south (from .40 percent in 2000). . to .47 percent in 2019).

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Brooch notes that landscaping may not be feasible in all cities due to differences in climate, water sources, urbanization and landscape, but urban experts can use the results of the study to study local changes in greenery over time and develop appropriate and effective action on climate. plan in their cities.

“Growing greenery in a dry climate in the southwest is different from growing greenery in an urban area in the northwestern Pacific,” Brochu said. “If a region’s climate makes it difficult to plant lush trees, urban experts can use this data on greenery as a starting point and consider other types of vegetation that may be more realistic for their local climate.”

“One of the main questions that urban gliders ask is where to apply landscaping and can we quantify the impact of landscaping initiatives on them – as there are costs for tree or shrub planting campaigns,” said the senior author. of the study Dr. Kevin Lane, Assistant Professor of Environmental Health. “The ability to focus on which areas will have the highest mortality reductions may justify these campaigns, not only as a mitigation measure, but also as a way to directly improve health.

A component of this assessment also informs a case of the health impact of the unfair distribution of greenery in Louisville, Kentucky, which was published in the 2020 report. The lancet Counting climate and health. The case estimates that a small increase in landscaping could prevent 400 deaths among adults aged 55 and over in the Louisville subway area.

Researchers hope to further explore local changes in the distribution of greenery in other urban areas and how these changes may have informed the city’s climate action plans. This analysis can also be replicated globally, thanks to satellite NDVI measurements, Lane said.

“One of the great benefits of using satellite measures is that we can compare health mortality impact assessments in the United States with those in Europe and elsewhere, so we can understand the global impact of mortality,” says Lane. “This work will allow us to quantify whether a potential strategy for adaptation to climate change can have an impact not only in our urban areas, but also around the world.

The SPH study was co-authored by Dr. Patrick Keaney, Beverly A. Brown, a professor of urban health, and Dr. Marcia Pescador Jimenez, an assistant professor of epidemiology. The study was also co-authored by Dr. Peter James of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

The story first appeared in News Medical

Increasing greenery in urban areas may reduce mortality of all causes, study reveals

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