Special Issue "Environmental Health, Blue-Green Infrastructure Planning, and Health Equity"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Global Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Mahbubur Meenar
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography, Planning, and Sustainability, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ 08028, USA
Interests: environmental health; stormwater management; green infrastructure; urban food systems; sustainable development; geo-spatial technologies; digital civic engagement
Dr. Megan Heckert
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography and Planning, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, PA 19383, USA
Interests: environmental justice; urban greening; green stormwater infrastructure; spatial analysis; urban revitalization
Dr. Helen Cole
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Barcelona Laboratory for Urban Environemntal Justice and Sustainability, Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA), Autonomous University of Barcelona and the Institue for Medical Research of the Hospital del Mar (IMIM), Barcelona, Spain
Interests: health equity; urban health; social epidemiology; environmental health; environmental justice; green gentrification
Dr. Deepti Adlakha
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast, University Road, Belfast, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland
Interests: urban design; city planning; built environment; walkability; public health; physical activity; healthy cities
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As communities across the globe are facing increasing environmental challenges due to climate change, the relationship between urban planning and environmental health outcomes has become more important than ever, particularly in the context of increasingly inequitable social environments that restrict access to health-promoting environments for marginalized groups. Physical determinants of health, such as built and natural environments, play a key role in the process of planning for equitable societies. In particular, nature-based solutions, such as blue-green infrastructure and its connection to environmental health and equity, has been a topic of research inquiry in the last decade. Blue-green infrastructure has been also linked to the intellectual undertakings of biophilic city concepts, intending to re-introduce flora and fauna into urban environments. In an urban context, blue-green infrastructure means a network of natural and designed landscape elements, such as water bodies, parks, open spaces, trails, urban farms, community gardens, rain gardens, green roofs, tree trenches, and bioswales, which arguably deliver a wide range of ecosystem services and associated environmental, social, economic, and health benefits. Further research is needed to fully understand the role of blue-green infrastructure in environmental planning and management processes to achieve health equity and improved community health and well-being outcomes.

This Special Issue aims to showcase the variety and relevance of recent advances and developments in the intersection of environmental health, blue-green infrastructure planning, and health equity. We seek to understand this intersection through research performed in urban and regional contexts, as well as at neighborhood and city scales, by using qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-methods research.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the following: physical determinants of health equity; nature-based solutions, biophilic cities, and green infrastructure planning; climate change, flooding, and stormwater management; urban heat island effects on public health and mitigation efforts; urban agriculture and vacant land cultivation; blue-green infrastructure and environmental justice; environmental education and community stewardship; and public perception of and mental health issues around blue-green infrastructure. Papers focusing on qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches, such as community-based participatory research, participatory photography and storytelling, participatory and visual methodologies, spatial data analysis, modeling, visualization, as well as traditional epidemiological approaches are welcome. We are also interested in new transdisciplinary and transnational conversations and welcome submissions from the Global South. Review papers are also encouraged.

Dr. Mahbubur Meenar
Dr. Megan Heckert
Dr. Helen Cole
Dr. Deepti Adlakha
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 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

  • community health
  • blue green infrastructure
  • built environment
  • biophilic cities
  • urban agriculture
  • physical determinants of health
  • social equity
  • ​health equity
  • environmental health
  • climate change mitigation
  • urban heat island
  • environmental education
  • public perception

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Residential Greenspace and Urban Adolescent Substance Use: Exploring Interactive Effects with Peer Network Health, Sex, and Executive Function
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1611; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041611 - 08 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 885
Abstract
While urban greenspace is increasingly recognized as important to mental health, its role in substance use is understudied. This exploratory study investigates the interaction of greenspace with peer network health, sex, and executive function (EF) in models of substance use among a sample [...] Read more.
While urban greenspace is increasingly recognized as important to mental health, its role in substance use is understudied. This exploratory study investigates the interaction of greenspace with peer network health, sex, and executive function (EF) in models of substance use among a sample of disadvantaged, urban youth. Adolescents and their parents were recruited from a hospital in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Residential greenspace at the streetscape level was derived from analysis of Google Street View imagery. Logistic regression models were used to test the moderating effect of greenspace on the association between peer network health and substance use, as well as additional moderating effects of sex and EF. The significant negative association of peer network health with substance use occurred only among youth residing in high greenspace environments, a moderating effect which was stronger among youth with high EF deficit. The moderating effect of greenspace did not differ between girls and boys. Greenspace may play an important role in moderating peer influences on substance use among disadvantaged, urban adolescents, and such moderation may differ according to an individual’s level of EF. This research provides evidence of differences in environmental susceptibility regarding contextual mechanisms of substance use among youth, and it informs the development of targeted substance use interventions that leverage social and environmental influences on adolescent substance use. Full article
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Article
Heat-Moderating Effects of Bus Stop Shelters and Tree Shade on Public Transport Ridership
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(2), 463; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020463 - 08 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1005
Abstract
Rising temperatures threaten the resilience of public transit systems. We determined whether bus stop shelters and tree canopy surrounding bus stops moderated the effect of warm season temperatures on ridership in Austin, Texas, and whether shelters and trees were equitably distributed. For bus [...] Read more.
Rising temperatures threaten the resilience of public transit systems. We determined whether bus stop shelters and tree canopy surrounding bus stops moderated the effect of warm season temperatures on ridership in Austin, Texas, and whether shelters and trees were equitably distributed. For bus stops (n = 2271) of Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, boardings per bus were measured 1 April–30 September 2019. Air temperature data originated from the Camp Mabry weather station. Tree canopy was calculated by classification of high-resolution aerial imagery from the National Agriculture Imagery Program. Data on race, ethnicity, poverty level, median age, and bus commuters within census tracts of bus stops originated from the 2014–2018 American Community Survey. Using multilevel negative binomial regression models, we found that shelters did not moderate the effect of high temperatures on ridership (p > 0.05). During high temperatures, each one-percent increase in tree canopy was associated with a lesser decrease (1.6%) in ridership compared to if there were no trees (1.7%) (p < 0.001). In general, shelters and trees were equitably distributed. Insignificant or modest effects of shelters and trees on ridership during high temperatures may be attributed to the transit dependency of riders. For climate change adaptation, we recommend tree planting at bus stops to protect from ridership losses and unhealthy exposure to extreme heat. Full article
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Article
Detecting the Cool Island Effect of Urban Parks in Wuhan: A City on Rivers
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(1), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010132 - 27 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 744
Abstract
As a nature-based solution, development of urban blue-green spaces is widely accepted for mitigating the urban heat island (UHI) effect. It is of great significance to determine the main driving factors of the park cool island (PCI) effect for optimizing park layout and [...] Read more.
As a nature-based solution, development of urban blue-green spaces is widely accepted for mitigating the urban heat island (UHI) effect. It is of great significance to determine the main driving factors of the park cool island (PCI) effect for optimizing park layout and achieving a maximum cooling benefit of urban parks. However, there have been obviously controversial conclusions in previous studies due to varied case contexts. This study was conducted in Wuhan, a city with high water coverage, which has significant differences in context with the previous case cities. The PCI intensity and its correlation with park characteristics were investigated based on remote sensing data. The results indicated that 36 out of 40 urban parks expressed a PCI effect, with a PCI intensity of 0.08~7.29 °C. As expected, larger parks with enough width had stronger PCI intensity. An increased density of hardened elements in a park could significantly weaken PCI effect. Noticeably, in this study, water bodies in a park contributed the most to the PCI effect of urban parks, while the vegetated areas showed a negative impact on the PCI intensity. It implied that in a context with higher water coverage, the cooling effect of vegetation was weakened or even masked by water bodies, due to the interaction effect of different variables on PCI intensity. Full article
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Article
Comparative Study on the Cooling Effects of Green Space Patterns in Waterfront Build-Up Blocks: An Experience from Shanghai
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(22), 8684; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17228684 - 23 Nov 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 792
Abstract
Different structural patterns of waterfront green space networks in built-up areas have different synergistic cooling characteristics in cities. This study’s aim is to determine what kinds of spatial structures and morphologies of waterfront green spaces offer a good cooling effect, combined with three [...] Read more.
Different structural patterns of waterfront green space networks in built-up areas have different synergistic cooling characteristics in cities. This study’s aim is to determine what kinds of spatial structures and morphologies of waterfront green spaces offer a good cooling effect, combined with three different typical patterns in Shanghai. A multidimensional spatial influence variable system based on the cooling effect was constructed to describe the spatial structural and morphological factors of the green space network. The ENVI-met 4.3 software, developed by Michael Bruse at Bochum, German, was used to simulate the microclimate distribution data, combined with the boosted regression tree (BRT) model and the correlation analysis method. The results showed that at the network level, the distance from the water body and the connectivity of green space had a stronger cooling correlation. The orientation of green corridors consistent with a summer monsoon had larger cooling effect ranges. In terms of spatial morphology, the vegetation sky view factor (SVF) and Vegetation Surface Albedo (VSAlbedo) had an important correlation with air temperature (T), and the green corridor with a 20–25 m width had the largest marginal effect on cooling. These results will provide useful guidance for urban climate adaptive planning and design. Full article
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Article
Using the Multi-Theory Model (MTM) of Health Behavior Change to Explain Intentional Outdoor Nature Contact Behavior among College Students
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(17), 6104; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17176104 - 21 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1020
Abstract
Nature contact is an emerging health behavior and is defined as the interaction between human beings and animals, plants, natural scenic views, or outdoor activities. Studies have shown that exposure to the outdoors (as a means of contact with nature) reduces perceived stress [...] Read more.
Nature contact is an emerging health behavior and is defined as the interaction between human beings and animals, plants, natural scenic views, or outdoor activities. Studies have shown that exposure to the outdoors (as a means of contact with nature) reduces perceived stress and promotes health and wellbeing among varying populations in many settings. To date, however, there are few studies exploring the impact of nature contact among college students, especially in the United States. In addition, the determinants of nature contact behavior have not adequately been explored using behavioral theories. The purpose of this study was to use the multi-theory model (MTM) of health behavior change, a contemporary fourth-generation behavioral theory in explaining intentional outdoor nature contact behavior among college students. Using a cross-sectional design, 401 students completed the validated survey based on MTM. Of these, 281 met the inclusion criteria. The mean score for perceived stress based on the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10) in the sample was 21.60 (7.08) units, with a possible minimum and maximum scores ranging from 0 to 40 units. Constructs of behavioral confidence (standardized coefficient = 0.591, p < 0.001) and changes in the physical environment (standardized coefficient = 0.271, p < 0.001) from MTM accounted for 57.5% of the variance in the initiation for intentional outdoor nature contact behavior. All the three constructs of MTM—namely, emotional transformation (standardized coefficient = 0.173, p = 0.021), practice for change (standardized coefficient = 0.317, p < 0.001), and changes in the social environment (standardized coefficient = 0.204, p = 0.002)—were statistically significant and contributed substantively toward the variance (31.0%) in sustenance. MTM provides a useful and pragmatic framework for designing interventions to promote intentional nature contact behavior among college students. Full article

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Commentary
Access to Nature in a Post Covid-19 World: Opportunities for Green Infrastructure Financing, Distribution and Equitability in Urban Planning
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1527; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041527 - 05 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1732
Abstract
Covid-19 changed the way many people viewed and interacted with the natural environment. In the UK, a series of national lockdowns limited the number of places that individuals could use to support their mental and physical health. Parks, gardens, canals and other “green [...] Read more.
Covid-19 changed the way many people viewed and interacted with the natural environment. In the UK, a series of national lockdowns limited the number of places that individuals could use to support their mental and physical health. Parks, gardens, canals and other “green infrastructure” (GI) resources remained open and were repositioned as “essential infrastructure” supporting well-being. However, the quality, functionality and location of GI in urban areas illustrated a disparity in distribution that meant that in many cases communities with higher ethnic diversity, lower income and greater health inequality suffered from insufficient access. This paper provides commentary on these issues, reflecting on how planners, urban designers and environmental organizations are positioning GI in decision-making to address inequality. Through a discussion of access and quality in an era of austerity funding, this paper proposes potential pathways to equitable environmental planning that address historical and contemporary disenfranchisement with the natural environment in urban areas. Full article

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: “Green enough ain’t good enough”: Understanding resident perception of green infrastructure and social benefits in environmental justice communities
Authors: Mahbbur Meenar, Megan Heckart and Deepti Adlakha
Affiliation: Mahbbur Meenar (Rowan University, USA) Megan Heckart (West Chester University of Pennsylvania, USA) Deepti Adlakha (Queen’s University Belfast, UK)

Title: Mental health outcomes in Barcelona: The interplay between gentrification and green spaces
Authors: Montserrat Zayas Costa, Helen V.S. Cole, Isabelle Anguelovski, James J.T. Connolly, Xavier Bartoll and Margarita Triguero-Mas
Affiliation: Montserrat Zayas Costa, Helen V.S. Cole, Isabelle Anguelovski, James J.T. Connolly, Margarita Triguero-Mas (Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) Xavier Bartoll (Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona)

Title: Intersectionality in environmental (in)justice and health risks: The spatial distribution of green infrastructure and compounding inequalities of COVID-19
Authors: Megan Heckert, Christina D. Rosan and Mahbubur Meenar
Affiliation: Megan Heckert (West Chester University of Pennsylvania, USA) Christina D. Rosan (Temple University, USA) Mahbubur Meenar (Rowan University, USA)

Title: Finding the Heart in the Green: A Bibliometric Analysis of How Biophilic City Planning and Green Infrastructure Influence Emotion, Equity, and Well-Being
Authors: Christopher Tirri; Hunter Swanson
Affiliation: Rowan University, USA

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