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Tree-lined streets 'cut asthma'

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  • Christopher Miller
    A story from BBC news: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7374078.stm Tree-lined streets cut asthma Children who live in tree-lined streets have lower rates
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 30, 2008
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      A story from BBC news:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7374078.stm

      Tree-lined streets 'cut asthma'
      Children who live in tree-lined streets have lower rates of asthma, a
      New York-based study suggests.
      Columbia University researchers found that asthma rates among children
      aged four and five fell by 25% for every extra 343 trees per square
      kilometre.
      They believe more trees may aid air quality or simply encourage
      children to play outside, although they say the true reason for the
      finding is unclear.
      The study appears in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
      US rates of childhood asthma soared 50% between 1980 and 2000, with
      particularly high rates in poor, urban communities.
      In New York City, asthma is the leading cause of admission to hospital
      among children under 15.
      The researchers found the city had an average of 613 street trees per
      square kilometre, and 9% of young children had asthma.
      The link between numbers of trees and asthma cases held true even
      after taking into account sources of pollution, levels of affluence
      and population density, the researchers said.
      However, once these factors were taken into account, the number of
      trees in a street did not appear to have any impact on the number of
      children whose asthma was so severe that they required hospital
      treatment.
      Exposure theory
      Some experts believe that children who are exposed to few microbes in
      early life are at an increased risk of asthma because their immune
      systems do not get the practice they need at fighting infection.
      Therefore, if a tree-lined street encourages outside play, it might
      help reduce the risk of asthma by maximising the odds that children
      will be exposed to microbes.
      However, trees are also a source of pollen, which may potentially
      exacerbate asthma symptoms in vulnerable children.
      Lead researcher Dr Gina Lovasi admitted the effect, if any, of trees
      was far from clear.
      She said: "There may be something else healthful about the areas that
      had more trees.
      "For example, trees could be more abundant in areas that are well
      maintained in other ways."
      Leanne Male, assistant director of research at the charity Asthma UK,
      said: "Previous research looking at the influence of the environment
      on levels of asthma has focused on negative aspects, such as pollution
      and chemical exposure.
      "This innovative report is the first to look specifically at the
      potentially beneficial effects of trees in urban areas and raises some
      interesting issues.
      "However, there are a number of other factors that have not been
      considered, for example whether the families involved have pets.
      "Despite the need for further work, this is a positive first step into
      a new area of research linking the environment and asthma."
      New York City is planning to plant 1 million extra trees by 2017.


      Christopher Miller
      Montreal QC Canada
    • Xavier TreviƱo
      ... From: Christopher Miller ... Despite my personal defense of trees on streets in cities, there are some limitations in this
      Message 2 of 2 , May 2 5:59 PM
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        ----- Original Message ----
        From: Christopher Miller <christophermiller@...>
        > A story from BBC news:
        > http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7374078.stm
        > Tree-lined streets 'cut asthma'
        Despite my personal defense of trees on streets in cities, there are some limitations in this study:
        http://www.nhs.uk/news/2008/05May/Pages/Asthmarisklowinleafysuburbs.aspx
        "The design of this study means that it is not possible to conclude from the findings that planting trees would prevent childhood asthma for individuals living near them."

        X.


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