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Special Issue "Urban Place and Health Equity"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2016)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Jason Corburn

Department of City and Regional Planning & School of Public Health, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: urban health; climate change and health in cities; informal settlements and health; cumulative exposure assessments; health impact assessment; environmental justice; spatial epidemiology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The question of how where we live, learn, work and play might influence human health has challenged medicine and environmental health for centuries. In Airs, Waters, and Places, Hippocrates helped his readers distinguish unhealthy places (such as swamps) from healthy places (such as sunny, breezy hillsides). Karl Marx wrote of the ‘indelible imprint’ of labouring conditions on the urban poor in the 19th century. Today, neighbourhoods, communities, built environments and other spatial measures are used in exposure assessments and impact analyses. However, what environmental characteristics define a place and distinguish it from geography? How might place-based characteristics be biologically embodied to influence communicable and non-communicable diseases? The field of environmental health has focused much attention on documenting unhealthy exposures, but what might constitute a healthy place? Increasingly, policy responses to some of our most pressing urban environmental health risks, such as climate change, inadequate water and sanitation, informal settlements, are taking a place based approach. What does this mean? What 21st century technologies and analytic methods might offer insights for measuring health and place, and which might present new place-based hazards and risks? In an increasingly virtually connected, seemingly place-less world, will place matter less and less for health? Can a place-focused approach address urban environmental injustice issues? Can citizen science techniques, where those most familiar with a place measure and track issues, improve environmental health science and policy? This Special Issue is accepting papers to help investigate and address these and related questions of place and health for 21st century environmental health.

Dr. Jason Corburn
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Urban health
  • housing and health
  • informal settlements or slums
  • cities and climate change
  • citizen science
  • environmental justice
  • urban planning
  • health impact assessment
  • spatial epidemiology
  • medical geography

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Can Urbanization, Social and Spatial Disparities Help to Understand the Rise of Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Bobo-Dioulasso? A Study in a Secondary City of Burkina Faso, West Africa
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(4), 378; doi:10.3390/ijerph14040378
Received: 31 October 2016 / Revised: 15 March 2017 / Accepted: 30 March 2017 / Published: 4 April 2017
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Abstract
Background: Unplanned urbanization plays a key role in chronic disease growth. This population-based cross-sectional study assessed the occurrence of cardiometabolic risk factors in Bobo-Dioulasso and their association with urbanization conditions. Methods: Through spatial sampling, four Bobo-Dioulasso sub-spaces were selected for a
[...] Read more.
Background: Unplanned urbanization plays a key role in chronic disease growth. This population-based cross-sectional study assessed the occurrence of cardiometabolic risk factors in Bobo-Dioulasso and their association with urbanization conditions. Methods: Through spatial sampling, four Bobo-Dioulasso sub-spaces were selected for a population survey to measure the adult health status. Yéguéré, Dogona, Tounouma and Secteur 25 had very different urbanization conditions (position within the city; time of creation and healthcare structure access). The sample size was estimated at 1000 households (250 for each sub-space) in which one adult (35 to 59-year-old) was randomly selected. Finally, 860 adults were surveyed. Anthropometric, socioeconomic and clinical data were collected. Arterial blood pressure was measured and blood samples were collected to assess glycemia. Results: Weight, body mass index and waist circumference (mean values) and serum glycemia (83.4 mg/dL ± 4.62 mmol/L) were significantly higher in Tounouma, Dogona, and Secteur 25 than in Yéguéré; the poorest and most rural-like sub-space (p = 0.001). Overall, 43.2%, 40.5%, 5.3% and 60.9% of participants had overweight, hypertension, hyperglycemia and one or more cardiometabolic risk markers, respectively. Conclusions: Bobo-Dioulasso is unprepared to face this public health issue and urgent responses are needed to reduce the health risks associated with unplanned urbanization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Place and Health Equity)
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Open AccessArticle Slum Upgrading and Health Equity
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(4), 342; doi:10.3390/ijerph14040342
Received: 14 November 2016 / Revised: 15 March 2017 / Accepted: 17 March 2017 / Published: 24 March 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (321 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Informal settlement upgrading is widely recognized for enhancing shelter and promoting economic development, yet its potential to improve health equity is usually overlooked. Almost one in seven people on the planet are expected to reside in urban informal settlements, or slums, by 2030.
[...] Read more.
Informal settlement upgrading is widely recognized for enhancing shelter and promoting economic development, yet its potential to improve health equity is usually overlooked. Almost one in seven people on the planet are expected to reside in urban informal settlements, or slums, by 2030. Slum upgrading is the process of delivering place-based environmental and social improvements to the urban poor, including land tenure, housing, infrastructure, employment, health services and political and social inclusion. The processes and products of slum upgrading can address multiple environmental determinants of health. This paper reviewed urban slum upgrading evaluations from cities across Asia, Africa and Latin America and found that few captured the multiple health benefits of upgrading. With the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focused on improving well-being for billions of city-dwellers, slum upgrading should be viewed as a key strategy to promote health, equitable development and reduce climate change vulnerabilities. We conclude with suggestions for how slum upgrading might more explicitly capture its health benefits, such as through the use of health impact assessment (HIA) and adopting an urban health in all policies (HiAP) framework. Urban slum upgrading must be more explicitly designed, implemented and evaluated to capture its multiple global environmental health benefits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Place and Health Equity)
Open AccessArticle Toward a Socio-Territorial Approach to Health: Health Equity in West Africa
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(1), 106; doi:10.3390/ijerph14010106
Received: 31 October 2016 / Revised: 5 January 2017 / Accepted: 18 January 2017 / Published: 22 January 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1735 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Correction
Abstract
This study contributes to the literature about the effects of space and place on health by introducing a socio-territorial approach to urban health disparities in West Africa. It explores how urban spaces, specifically neighbourhoods, are shaped by social and economic relations and strategies
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This study contributes to the literature about the effects of space and place on health by introducing a socio-territorial approach to urban health disparities in West Africa. It explores how urban spaces, specifically neighbourhoods, are shaped by social and economic relations and strategies of territorial control. We examine the potential influence of socio-territorial processes on vulnerability to disease, access to medical care, healthscapes, and illness experiences. Our research was conducted in Senegal and relied on a mixed methods design. We identified four neighbourhoods that represent the socio-spatial heterogeneity of the city of Saint-Louis and utilized the following methods: geographic and anthropological field research, household surveys, health knowledge and behaviour surveys, clinical exams, and illness interviews. Our results highlight the socio-territorial processes at work in each neighbourhood, clinical findings on three health measures (overweight, high blood pressure, and hyperglycaemia) and health experiences of individuals with hypertension or type II diabetes. We found significant differences in the prevalence of the three health measures in the study sites, while experiences managing hypertension and diabetes were similar. We conclude that a socio-territorial approach offers insight into the complex constellation of forces that produce health disparities in urban settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Place and Health Equity)
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Open AccessArticle The Influence of Urbanization Modes on the Spatial Circulation of Flaviviruses within Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(12), 1226; doi:10.3390/ijerph13121226
Received: 20 October 2016 / Revised: 30 November 2016 / Accepted: 7 December 2016 / Published: 10 December 2016
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Abstract
Dengue is an emerging infectious disease of global significance. Although this virus has been reported for a long time, its significance within the burden of diseases in West Africa is not obvious, especially in Burkina Faso. Our objective was to evaluate flavivirus presence
[...] Read more.
Dengue is an emerging infectious disease of global significance. Although this virus has been reported for a long time, its significance within the burden of diseases in West Africa is not obvious, especially in Burkina Faso. Our objective was to evaluate flavivirus presence in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and the link between anti-flavivirus antibody seroprevalence and urbanization modes. A population-based cross-sectional survey was conducted and 3015 children were enrolled from Ouagadougou districts with different types and degrees of urbanization (with/without equipment and high/low building density). Flavivirus (FLAV) IgM MAC-ELISA and FLAV indirect IgG ELISA were performed. Associations between FLAV IgG presence (sign of past infection) and various independent variables were assessed using the chi-square test and a multivariate logistic regression analysis. The apparent prevalence of past flavivirus infections among the enrolled children was 22.7% (95% CI: 22.4–26.7) (n = 685). Eleven children (0.4%; 95% CI: 0.61–2.14) were positive for FLAV IgM, indicating active transmission. Factors associated with flavivirus infection were identified among the enrolled children (age, sex), householders (educational level, asset index) and in the environment (building density, water access, waste management and house appearance); however, they showed great variability according to the city districts. The water access modality did not significantly influence FLAV IgG positivity. Conversely, apparently good practices of waste management had unexpected consequences (increased risk related to municipal dumpsters). Given the scale of ongoing urbanization and the spread of arboviral diseases, close collaboration between health and city stakeholders is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Place and Health Equity)
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Open AccessArticle Determinants, Health Problems, and Food Insecurity in Urban Areas of the Largest City in Cape Verde
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(11), 1155; doi:10.3390/ijerph13111155
Received: 5 August 2016 / Revised: 5 November 2016 / Accepted: 15 November 2016 / Published: 22 November 2016
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Abstract
Urbanization processes are intertwined with nutritional transition because there is easier access to food of low nutritional quality at reduced prices, changing dietary patterns and leading to an increase of non-communicable chronic diseases. This study aims to understand the perceptions for high blood
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Urbanization processes are intertwined with nutritional transition because there is easier access to food of low nutritional quality at reduced prices, changing dietary patterns and leading to an increase of non-communicable chronic diseases. This study aims to understand the perceptions for high blood pressure, obesity, and alcoholism, describing some interactions of these dimensions in the problem of food security in the city of Praia. A qualitative study was carried out under the framework of the research project “UPHI-STAT: Urban Planning and Health Inequalities—moving from macro to micro statistics”. Ten focus groups were conducted in three urban areas with distinct characteristics in the city of Praia, with a total of 48 participants. Participants reported frequent consumption of foods with poor nutritional quality, understanding the potential danger in terms of food security in the city of Praia. Easy access to and high levels of alcohol consumption, and poor quality of traditional drinks were mentioned by participants in the study areas. The impact of the economic situation on the possibility of access to safe and healthy options emerged as a differentiating factor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Place and Health Equity)
Open AccessArticle Noise Annoyance in Urban Children: A Cross-Sectional Population-Based Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(11), 1056; doi:10.3390/ijerph13111056
Received: 9 July 2016 / Revised: 29 September 2016 / Accepted: 19 October 2016 / Published: 28 October 2016
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Abstract
Acoustical and non-acoustical factors influencing noise annoyance in adults have been well-documented in recent years; however, similar knowledge is lacking in children. The aim of this study was to quantify the annoyance caused by chronic ambient noise at home in children and to
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Acoustical and non-acoustical factors influencing noise annoyance in adults have been well-documented in recent years; however, similar knowledge is lacking in children. The aim of this study was to quantify the annoyance caused by chronic ambient noise at home in children and to assess the relationship between these children′s noise annoyance level and individual and contextual factors in the surrounding urban area. A cross sectional population-based study was conducted including 517 children attending primary school in a European city. Noise annoyance was measured using a self-report questionnaire adapted for children. Six noise exposure level indicators were built at different locations at increasing distances from the child′s bedroom window using a validated strategic noise map. Multilevel logistic models were constructed to investigate factors associated with noise annoyance in children. Noise indicators in front of the child′s bedroom (p ≤ 0.01), family residential satisfaction (p ≤ 0.03) and socioeconomic characteristics of the individuals and their neighbourhood (p ≤ 0.05) remained associated with child annoyance. These findings illustrate the complex relationships between our environment, how we may perceive it, social factors and health. Better understanding of these relationships will undoubtedly allow us to more effectively quantify the actual effect of noise on human health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Place and Health Equity)
Open AccessArticle Local Geographic Variation of Public Services Inequality: Does the Neighborhood Scale Matter?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(10), 981; doi:10.3390/ijerph13100981
Received: 1 August 2016 / Revised: 12 September 2016 / Accepted: 26 September 2016 / Published: 1 October 2016
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (4632 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study aims to explore the effect of the neighborhood scale when estimating public services inequality based on the aggregation of social, environmental, and health-related indicators. Inequality analyses were carried out at three neighborhood scales: the original census blocks and two aggregated neighborhood
[...] Read more.
This study aims to explore the effect of the neighborhood scale when estimating public services inequality based on the aggregation of social, environmental, and health-related indicators. Inequality analyses were carried out at three neighborhood scales: the original census blocks and two aggregated neighborhood units generated by the spatial “k”luster analysis by the tree edge removal (SKATER) algorithm and the self-organizing map (SOM) algorithm. Then, we combined a set of health-related public services indicators with the geographically weighted principal components analyses (GWPCA) and the principal components analyses (PCA) to measure the public services inequality across all multi-scale neighborhood units. Finally, a statistical test was applied to evaluate the scale effects in inequality measurements by combining all available field survey data. We chose Quito as the case study area. All of the aggregated neighborhood units performed better than the original census blocks in terms of the social indicators extracted from a field survey. The SKATER and SOM algorithms can help to define the neighborhoods in inequality analyses. Moreover, GWPCA performs better than PCA in multivariate spatial inequality estimation. Understanding the scale effects is essential to sustain a social neighborhood organization, which, in turn, positively affects social determinants of public health and public quality of life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Place and Health Equity)
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Open AccessArticle Neighborhood Landscape Spatial Patterns and Land Surface Temperature: An Empirical Study on Single-Family Residential Areas in Austin, Texas
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(9), 880; doi:10.3390/ijerph13090880
Received: 25 April 2016 / Revised: 15 August 2016 / Accepted: 29 August 2016 / Published: 2 September 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (3560 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Rapid urbanization has accelerated land use and land cover changes, and generated the urban heat island effect (UHI). Previous studies have reported positive effects of neighborhood landscapes on mitigating urban surface temperatures. However, the influence of neighborhood landscape spatial patterns on enhancing cooling
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Rapid urbanization has accelerated land use and land cover changes, and generated the urban heat island effect (UHI). Previous studies have reported positive effects of neighborhood landscapes on mitigating urban surface temperatures. However, the influence of neighborhood landscape spatial patterns on enhancing cooling effects has not yet been fully investigated. The main objective of this study was to assess the relationships between neighborhood landscape spatial patterns and land surface temperatures (LST) by using multi-regression models considering spatial autocorrelation issues. To measure the influence of neighborhood landscape spatial patterns on LST, this study analyzed neighborhood environments of 15,862 single-family houses in Austin, Texas, USA. Using aerial photos, geographic information systems (GIS), and remote sensing, FRAGSTATS was employed to calculate values of several landscape indices used to measure neighborhood landscape spatial patterns. After controlling for the spatial autocorrelation effect, results showed that larger and better-connected landscape spatial patterns were positively correlated with lower LST values in neighborhoods, while more fragmented and isolated neighborhood landscape patterns were negatively related to the reduction of LST. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Place and Health Equity)
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Open AccessArticle Integrating High-Resolution Datasets to Target Mitigation Efforts for Improving Air Quality and Public Health in Urban Neighborhoods
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(8), 790; doi:10.3390/ijerph13080790
Received: 30 April 2016 / Revised: 21 July 2016 / Accepted: 27 July 2016 / Published: 5 August 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2346 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Reducing exposure to degraded air quality is essential for building healthy cities. Although air quality and population vary at fine spatial scales, current regulatory and public health frameworks assess human exposures using county- or city-scales. We build on a spatial analysis technique, dasymetric
[...] Read more.
Reducing exposure to degraded air quality is essential for building healthy cities. Although air quality and population vary at fine spatial scales, current regulatory and public health frameworks assess human exposures using county- or city-scales. We build on a spatial analysis technique, dasymetric mapping, for allocating urban populations that, together with emerging fine-scale measurements of air pollution, addresses three objectives: (1) evaluate the role of spatial scale in estimating exposure; (2) identify urban communities that are disproportionately burdened by poor air quality; and (3) estimate reduction in mobile sources of pollutants due to local tree-planting efforts using nitrogen dioxide. Our results show a maximum value of 197% difference between cadastrally-informed dasymetric system (CIDS) and standard estimations of population exposure to degraded air quality for small spatial extent analyses, and a lack of substantial difference for large spatial extent analyses. These results provide the foundation for improving policies for managing air quality, and targeting mitigation efforts to address challenges of environmental justice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Place and Health Equity)
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Open AccessCommentary Urban Place and Health Equity: Critical Issues and Practices
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(2), 117; doi:10.3390/ijerph14020117
Received: 7 November 2016 / Revised: 17 January 2017 / Accepted: 19 January 2017 / Published: 26 January 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (888 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Urban places and health equity are two of the most challenging concepts for 21st century environmental health. More people live in cities than at any other time in human history and health inequities are increasing. Health inequities are avoidable differences in the social,
[...] Read more.
Urban places and health equity are two of the most challenging concepts for 21st century environmental health. More people live in cities than at any other time in human history and health inequities are increasing. Health inequities are avoidable differences in the social, environmental and political conditions that shape morbidity and mortality, and disproportionately burden the poor, racial, ethnic and religious minorities and migrants. By linking urban place and health inequities, research and action brings into sharp relief the challenges of achieving urban environmental justice. This article briefly reviews the complex definitions of urban places and how they can shape health equity in cities. I suggest that a more relational or integrated approach to defining urban places and acting on health equity can complement other approaches and improve the ability of public health to meet 21st century challenges. I close with suggestions for research and practice that might focus environmental public health on healthy urban place making. The practices include community driven map making, Health in All Policies (HiAP), promoting urban ecosystem services for health, and participatory and integrated approaches to urban slum upgrading. I conclude that if the global community is serious about the sustainable development goals (SDGs), greater attention must be paid to understanding and acting to improve urban places, living conditions and the social and economic conditions that can promote health equity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Place and Health Equity)
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Open AccessOpinion Transforming Life: A Broad View of the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Concept from an Ecological Justice Perspective
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(11), 1075; doi:10.3390/ijerph13111075
Received: 31 August 2016 / Revised: 21 October 2016 / Accepted: 28 October 2016 / Published: 3 November 2016
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (8784 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The influential scientist Rene J. Dubos (1901–1982) conducted groundbreaking studies concerning early-life environmental exposures (e.g., diet, social interactions, commensal microbiota, housing conditions) and adult disease. However, Dubos looked beyond the scientific focus on disease, arguing that “mere survival is not enough”.
[...] Read more.
The influential scientist Rene J. Dubos (1901–1982) conducted groundbreaking studies concerning early-life environmental exposures (e.g., diet, social interactions, commensal microbiota, housing conditions) and adult disease. However, Dubos looked beyond the scientific focus on disease, arguing that “mere survival is not enough”. He defined mental health as fulfilling human potential, and expressed concerns about urbanization occurring in tandem with disappearing access to natural environments (and elements found within them); thus modernity could interfere with health via “missing exposures”. With the advantage of emerging research involving green space, the microbiome, biodiversity and positive psychology, we discuss ecological justice in the dysbiosphere and the forces—financial inequity, voids in public policy, marketing and otherwise—that interfere with the fundamental rights of children to thrive in a healthy urban ecosystem and learn respect for the natural environment. We emphasize health within the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) rubric and suggest that greater focus on positive exposures might uncover mechanisms of resiliency that contribute to maximizing human potential. We will entrain our perspective to socioeconomic disadvantage in developed nations and what we have described as “grey space”; this is a mental as much as a physical environment, a space that serves to insidiously reinforce unhealthy behavior, compromise positive psychological outlook and, ultimately, trans-generational health. It is a dwelling place that cannot be fixed with encephalobiotics or the drug-class known as psychobiotics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Place and Health Equity)
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