Children who live on tree-lined streets have lower rates of asthma, suggesting that those leafy green oases may be as important to public health as they are to quality of life.
The study focused on rates of asthma among four- and five-year-olds in New York City. Researchers with the British Medical Journal published their findings in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
With asthma rates climbing up 50% nationwide between 1980 and 2000, with the greatest increase in urban neighborhoods a solution as simple as tree planting would be a welcome. The benefit of trees was felt regardless of proximity to pollution sources, family income or population density.
Unfortunately, the study found no benefit to older children.
Even before these findings, studies have suggested that communities earn more than $5 for every dollar spent planting trees. Trees shade buildings and sidewalks, helping to lower temperatures and keep energy costs down, and they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to limit the growth of greenhouse gases that fuel to global warming.
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