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Health impacts of the built environment.

The built environment may influence exposures to physical inactivity and exposure to air pollution in different ways and thus may differentially influence the health of people living in urban areas. Hankey et al. (p. 247) examined the association of the built environment with air pollution and physical inactivity and estimated potential health risks. They used a regional travel survey to estimate within-urban variability in physical inactivity and home-based air pollution exposure to particulate matter ([PM.sub.2.5]), nitrogen oxides (N[O.sub.x]), and ozone ([O.sub.2]) for 30,007 individuals in Southern California. The resulting risk for ischemic hear disease (IHD) was then estimated using literature-derived dose-response values. A cross-sectional approach was used to compare estimated IHD mortality risks among neighborhoods based on "walkability" scores. The proportion of physically active individuals was higher in high- versus low-walkability neighborhoods but the between-neighborhood variability in estimated IHD mortality attributable to physical inactivity was modest (7 fewer IHI) deaths/100,000/year in high- vs. low-walkability neighborhoods). Between-neighborhood differences in estimated IHD mortality from air pollution were comparable in magnitude 9 more IHD deaths/100,000/year for [PM.sub.2.5] and 3 fewer IHD deaths for [O.sub.3] in high- vs. low-walkability neighborhoods). These findings suggest that the health benefits from increased physical activity in high-walkability neighborhoods may be offset by adverse effects of exposure to air pollution, and that differences in population health impacts between neighborhoods are similar for air pollution and physical activity. The authors note that both physical activity and exposure to air pollution are critical aspects of planning For cleaner, health-promoting cities.

* Also see Science Selections, p. A77
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Title Annotation:Research
Publication:Environmental Health Perspectives
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2012
Words:275
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