Article

The Relationship Between Trees and Human Health Evidence from the Spread of the Emerald Ash Borer

Pacific Northwest Research Station, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, Oregon. Electronic address: .
American journal of preventive medicine (Impact Factor: 4.28). 02/2013; 44(2):139-145. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.09.066
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT BACKGROUND: Several recent studies have identified a relationship between the natural environment and improved health outcomes. However, for practical reasons, most have been observational, cross-sectional studies. PURPOSE: A natural experiment, which provides stronger evidence of causality, was used to test whether a major change to the natural environment-the loss of 100 million trees to the emerald ash borer, an invasive forest pest-has influenced mortality related to cardiovascular and lower-respiratory diseases. METHODS: Two fixed-effects regression models were used to estimate the relationship between emerald ash borer presence and county-level mortality from 1990 to 2007 in 15 U.S. states, while controlling for a wide range of demographic covariates. Data were collected from 1990 to 2007, and the analyses were conducted in 2011 and 2012. RESULTS: There was an increase in mortality related to cardiovascular and lower-respiratory-tract illness in counties infested with the emerald ash borer. The magnitude of this effect was greater as infestation progressed and in counties with above-average median household income. Across the 15 states in the study area, the borer was associated with an additional 6113 deaths related to illness of the lower respiratory system, and 15,080 cardiovascular-related deaths. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that loss of trees to the emerald ash borer increased mortality related to cardiovascular and lower-respiratory-tract illness. This finding adds to the growing evidence that the natural environment provides major public health benefits.

5 Followers
 · 
443 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Health disparities occur when adverse health conditions are unequal across populations due in part to gaps in wealth. These disparities continue to plague global health. Decades of research suggests that the natural environment can play a key role in sustaining the health of the public. However, the influence of the natural environment on health disparities is not well-articulated. Green spaces provide ecosystem services that are vital to public health. This paper discusses the link between green spaces and some of the nation's leading health issues such as obesity, cardiovascular health, heat-related illness, and psychological health. These associations are discussed in terms of key demographic variables-race, ethnicity, and income. The authors also identify research gaps and recommendations for future research.
    International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 02/2015; 12(2):1952-1968. DOI:10.3390/ijerph120201952 · 1.99 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Famed microbiologist René J. Dubos (1901¿1982) was an early pioneer in the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) construct. In the 1960s, he conducted groundbreaking experimental research concerning the ways in which early-life experience with nutrition, microbiota, stress, and other environmental variables could influence later-life health outcomes. He also wrote extensively on potential health consequences of a progressive loss of contact with natural environments (now referred to as green or blue space), arguing that Paleolithic experiences have created needs, particularly in the mental realm, that might not be met in the context of rapid global urbanization. He posited that humans would certainly adapt to modern urban landscapes and high technology, but there might be a toll to be paid in the form of higher psychological distress (symptoms of anxiety and depression) and diminished quality of life. In particular, there might be an erosion of humanness, exemplified by declines in altruism/empathy. Here in the first of a two-part review, we examine contemporary research related to natural environments and question to what extent Dubos might have been correct in some of his 50-year-old assertions.
    Journal of PHYSIOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 01/2015; 34(1):1. DOI:10.1186/s40101-015-0041-y · 1.16 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: There is mounting concern for the health of urban populations as cities expand at an unprecedented rate. Urban green spaces provide settings for a remarkable range of physical and mental health benefits, and pioneering health policy is recognizing nature as a cost-effective tool for planning healthy cities. Despite this, limited information on how specific elements of nature deliver health outcomes restricts its use for enhancing population health. We articulate a framework for identifying direct and indirect causal pathways through which nature delivers health benefits, and highlight current evidence. We see a need for a bold new research agenda founded on testing causality that transcends disciplinary boundaries between ecology and health. This will lead to cost-effective and tailored solutions that could enhance population health and reduce health inequalities. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print January 20, 2015: e1-e8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302324).
    American Journal of Public Health 01/2015; 105(3):e1-e8. DOI:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302324 · 4.23 Impact Factor

Full-text

Download
166 Downloads
Available from
Jan 29, 2015
Available from