Sunday, March 14, 2010

Study finds no connection between tree canopy cover and respiratory health; Tampa, FL

URBAN TREE COVER DISTRIBUTION AS A HUMAN HEALTH INDICATOR: A CASE STUDY OF TAMPA, FLORIDA — Emerging Issues Along Urban-Rural Interfaces: "Trends in land cover (e.g. tree canopy cover) are an indicator for environmental and human health outcomes. Yet with these initial observations, there is limited research on this topic in urban areas. Likewise, trees are hypothesized to reduce air pollutants through dry deposition and uptake of gaseous pollutants through the stomata. Through this function, urban forests and their encompassing canopy cover present opportunities to improve air quality. While increasing tree cover has been proposed to reduce exposure to pollutants, thus improving public health, limited research has been conducted to test this hypothesis. This project examines if tree cover improves public health by reducing atmospheric pollutants in Tampa, Florida. Tree cover data was provided in a study conducted by Michael Andreu and his colleagues at the University of Florida. Other data was categorized by respiratory health status, zip code, census percent poverty level and compared to tree cover using the Spearman rank and Pearson correlation coefficients. There was no correlation between overall respiratory health and the percent of tree canopy cover (r = 0.01). When stratified by income, some low income areas with low tree canopy cover exhibited a higher incidence of overall respiratory health outcomes whereas high income areas with high tree cover exhibited low incidence in overall health outcomes. Further research, using the Urban Forest Effects (UFORE) model, will be conducted to for a more complete analysis (including data on income, race/ethnicity, and gender) on the relationship between tree cover with respiratory and cardiovascular human health outcomes in the urban environment."

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