Category Archives: Physical Environment

Is multiple environmental deprivation related to population health in Portugal?

By Ana Isabel Ribeiro

In our recently published paper (open access version here) we describe the development of a multivariate measure of physical environmental deprivation for the 278 municipalities of Portugal, and demonstrate its strong relationship with mortality rates. Continue reading Is multiple environmental deprivation related to population health in Portugal?

Are people in poor health more likely to move to poorer quality physical environments?

By Helena Tunstall

Grangemouth Refinery, UK
Grangemouth Refinery, UK

It is well known that people living in neighbourhoods with poorer quality physical environments tend to have worse health than those living in better quality environments. For example, those in areas with higher levels of air pollution have greater risk of death from respiratory and cardiovascular disease. However, the vast majority of these studies do not consider the possibility that patterns of residential moves may concentrate people with poorer health in certain types of environments. This is important because it is feasible that the links between the environment and health may, at least partially, be explained by the migration of people with poorer health to poor quality environments. Continue reading Are people in poor health more likely to move to poorer quality physical environments?

Does deindustrialisation explain low levels of physical activity in the UK?

by Esther Rind

In the UK, as in many other affluent countries, levels of physical activity have been declining in recent decades. In many areas with a history of heavy manual employment levels of physical activity are particularly low. This has been linked to a considerable reduction in work-related activities, coupled with a generally more sedentary life-style and the development of  broader environmental factors unconducive to physical activity (e.g. increased traffic makes walking and cycling less safe and attractive). Furthermore, previous research has highlighted that participation in leisure-time physical activity is relatively low across those employed in physically demanding industries. Low levels of recreational physical activity in combination with a considerable loss of work activity would therefore result in particularly low activity levels in the former manual workforce. Continue reading Does deindustrialisation explain low levels of physical activity in the UK?

Social differences in pollution across the EU may help to explain health inequalities

As a European Commission report and an important academic paper have recently reminded us, air pollution remains a persistent threat to population health across Europe. Pollutants such as particulate matter and ozone are among the leading causes of premature mortality and respiratory-related health outcomes. Globally, exposure to air pollution ranks as one of the top ten risk factors for health. Continue reading Social differences in pollution across the EU may help to explain health inequalities

CRESH research on children and the outdoors mentioned in House of Lords debate

Research by Rich Mitchell was mentioned in a House of Lords debate on 16 May. The debate centred on the contribution of outdoor activities to the United Kingdom economy and to the health and well-being of the population. The research cited was completed  in 2009. Rich Mitchell and Rebecca Shaw followed a group of children (average age 13) undertaking an outdoor education scheme; the John Muir Award. The children completed questionnaires before, during and then 18 months after, their Award experience. The study showed massive inequalities in experience of outdoor environments. Children living in the poorest circumstances were over 6 times more likely to have had no prior experience of wild places than their more affluent peers. The study showed that participation in the Award increased aspirations for visiting the outdoors, particularly among the most deprived children, but it did not affect actual visiting behaviour.
You can find out more about the John Muir Award here
There is a summary of the research here
The full report is here

Green space, physical activity and health in New Zealand

A new piece of CRESH research has been published online in the journal Public Health this week.  The paper “The role of physical activity in the relationship between urban green space and health” can be downloaded here.  We looked at the health of over 8000 individuals who were interviewed for the New Zealand Health Survey in 2006 and 2007 and asked whether they were likely to be healthier if they lived in greener neighbourhoods.  We found that residents of greener neighbourhoods did indeed have better cardiovascular and mental health, independently of their individual risk factors (e.g., sex, age, socioeconomic status).  Green space might benefit health because it provides greater opportunities for physical activity, and we were able to test this hypothesis because the New Zealand Health Survey included information about how physically active each individual respondent typically was.  We found that although physical activity was higher in greener neighbourhoods it did not fully explain the green space and health relationship.  Therefore, other pathways between green space and health (e.g., social contacts, attention restoration) are likely to be equally/more important.

Author: Liz Richardson

CRESH Seminar 6th Nov: Air Pollution Kills! So What? Air Quality Engineering to Improve Public Health

CRESH Seminar Announcement

Air Pollution Kills! So What? Air Quality Engineering to Improve Public Health

Julian Marshall

Department of Civil Engineering

University of Minnesota

When? 11-12pm Tues 6th November

Where? Hutton Room (3.18), Institute of Geography, Drummond St, Edinburgh

Abstract
The World Health Organization estimates that urban air pollution is one of the top 15 causes of death globally (one of the top 10 causes in high-income countries), responsible for ~ 1.7% of deaths annual (high-income countries, 2.1%). How can we reduce those health effects? This presentation will discuss three investigations into that question. (1) Urban form describes the physical layout of an urban area – for example, city shape, population density, and “patchiness” of urban growth. We have found that air pollution is related to urban form, for cities in the US and internationally, raising the question of whether urban planning can help cities meet air quality goals. (2) In low-income countries, indoor air can be especially polluted, owing to combustion of solid fuels for heating and cooking. In a rural village in Karnataka, India, we conducted a randomized control trial of a higher-efficiency stove, to test whether the stove improves indoor air pollution, health effects, and climate-relevant emissions. (3) Prior research emphasizes the health benefits of active travel (walking, biking). Can urban planning increase active travel without worsening exposure to air pollution? We explore spatial patterns in risks from those two factors (physical inactivity; and exposure to air pollution). A constant theme through these topics is environmental justice: which groups have higher exposures to air pollution, and how exposure correlates with demographic attributes such as race and income.