Greater tree cover near residence is associated with reduced allostatic load in residents of central North Carolina

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jo Klein, Geospatial and Data Visualization Librarian and Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Background: Among urban residents, increased contacts with nature are associated with reduced morbidity and mortality. The concept of allostatic load, a biomarker-based composite measure of physiological dysregulation, can be applied to study subclinical benefits of exposure, and to elucidate pathways leading to improved health. Objective: This research explored associations between residential vegetated land cover and an allostatic load index calculated using the statistical distance measure known as Mahalanobis distance. Methods: This cross-sectional population-based study involved 186 adult residents of the Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina metropolitan area. Measures of tree and grass cover within 500 m of residence were derived from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's EnviroAtlas land cover database. Fifteen biomarkers of immune, neuroendocrine, and metabolic functions were analyzed in serum samples. Regression analysis was conducted using generalized additive models with thin-plate spline functions of geographic coordinates, adjusting for modelled traffic air pollution from local sources and sociodemographic covariates. Results: The second and third tertiles of distance-weighted tree cover were associated with 14% (95% Confidence Limits 20%; 8%) and 15% (21%; 8%) reduction in adjusted median allostatic load, respectively, compared to the first tertile. The same tertiles of tree cover were also associated with 0.16 (0.03; 0.76) and 0.04 (0.01; 0.35) adjusted odds ratios of having allostatic load index above the 90th percentile of the sample distribution. Grass cover was inversely correlated with tree cover and was not associated with reduced allostatic load. Conclusions: Subclinical beneficial health effects of green spaces demonstrated in this study are consistent with reduced susceptibility to acute environmental and social stressors, and reduced risks of morbidity and mortality.

Additional Information

Environmental Research, 186(2020), 109435.
Language: English
Date: 2020
allostatic load, vegetated land cover, health effect biomarkers, Mahalanobis distance

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