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Environment Healthcare and Public Policy

Human Health Linked to Natural Environment

6 years, 6 months ago

2871  0
Posted on Jan 25, 2013, 6 a.m.

US Forest Service reports that the loss of 100 million trees has caused an increase in cardiovascular and lower-respiratory-tract illnesses to result in increased deaths nationwide.

Evidence is increasing from multiple scientific fields that exposure to the natural environment can improve human health. Geoffrey Donovan, from the US Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station (Oregon, USA), and colleagues analyzed 18 years of data collected from 1,296 counties in 15 US states, studying a total loss of 100 million trees to the emerald ash borer, an invasive forest beetle that renders the ash tree – which commonly lines in many city streets – useless.  The researchers found that Americans living in areas infested by the emerald ash borer suffered from an additional 15,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 6,000 more deaths from lower respiratory disease when compared to uninfected areas.  The study authors report that: "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.”

Geoffrey H. Donovan, David T. Butry, Yvonne L. Michael, Jeffrey P. Prestemon, Andrew M. Liebhold, Demetrios Gatziolis, Megan Y. Mao.  “The Relationship Between Trees and Human Health:  Evidence from the Spread of the Emerald Ash Borer.”  Am J Prev Med 2013;44(2):139–145.

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