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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(11), 1411; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14111411

Is All Urban Green Space the Same? A Comparison of the Health Benefits of Trees and Grass in New York City

1
Department of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
2
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
3
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA
4
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 October 2017 / Revised: 12 November 2017 / Accepted: 15 November 2017 / Published: 18 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Health)
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Abstract

Living near vegetation, often called “green space” or “greenness”, has been associated with numerous health benefits. We hypothesized that the two key components of urban vegetation, trees and grass, may differentially affect health. We estimated the association between near-residence trees, grass, and total vegetation (from the 2010 High Resolution Land Cover dataset for New York City (NYC)) with self-reported health from a survey of NYC adults (n = 1281). We found higher reporting of “very good” or “excellent” health for respondents with the highest, compared to the lowest, quartiles of tree (RR = 1.23, 95% CI = 1.06–1.44) but not grass density (relative risk (RR) = 1.00, 95% CI = 0.86–1.17) within 1000 m buffers, adjusting for pertinent confounders. Significant positive associations between trees and self-reported health remained after adjustment for grass, whereas associations with grass remained non-significant. Adjustment for air pollutants increased beneficial associations between trees and self-reported health; adjustment for parks only partially attenuated these effects. Results were null or negative using a 300 m buffer. Findings imply that higher exposure to vegetation, particularly trees outside of parks, may be associated with better health. If replicated, this may suggest that urban street tree planting may improve population health. View Full-Text
Keywords: trees; grass; green space; self-reported health; socio-economic status trees; grass; green space; self-reported health; socio-economic status
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Reid, C.E.; Clougherty, J.E.; Shmool, J.L.; Kubzansky, L.D. Is All Urban Green Space the Same? A Comparison of the Health Benefits of Trees and Grass in New York City. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 1411.

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