Green Infrastructure Issue Areas: Public Health

Public Health:

There have been numerous studies linking public health benefits to green infrastructure  practices. Trees, parks and other green infrastructure features have been shown to reduce particulate pollution, tiny bits of dust and chemicals in the air, by absorbing and filtering particulate matter. Reducing the amount of particulate pollution in the air we breathe can reduce respiratory ailments. In a study conducted by the City of Philadelphia, the City found that an increased tree canopy would reduce ozone and particulate pollution levels enough to significantly reduce mortality, hospital admissions, and work loss days. This study concluded that by increasing green infrastructure implementation by 50 percent, the City could save between $12.5 million and $20.5 million in total annual health costs as outlined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Green infrastructure techniques also cool urban environments, which reduces the number of heat-related fatalities.  According to the EPA, more green space and parks encourages outdoor physical activity, reducing obesity and preventing associated chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Type II diabetes, arthritis, and certain kinds of cancer. North American Envirothon, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing natural resources educational material, also linked the presence of green space to reduced levels of inner-city crime and violence, a stronger sense of community, improved academic performance, and even reductions in symptoms associated with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders.

For more information about Federal Agencies that utilize green infrastructure techniques to improve public health, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ green infrastructure toolkit webpages.

The organizations and reports referenced above and how green infrastructure relates to public health can be found in the following resources:

Copyright © 2013 National Association of Regional Councils