Gijón and A Coruña, in the 'Top Ten' of European cities with a higher mortality due to lack of green areas

Green areas provide health. Having close parks, forests, gardens or other types of vegetation is associated with multiple benefits, as a lower risk of psychia

Gijón and A Coruña, in the 'Top Ten' of European cities with a higher mortality due to lack of green areas

Green areas provide health. Having close parks, forests, gardens or other types of vegetation is associated with multiple benefits, as a lower risk of psychiatric or cardiovascular problems; A lower premature mortality and greater life expectancy. It has been demonstrated by numerous investigations, who have also revealed the damages of living surrounded by asphalt.

Not having access to green spaces adversely affects our health. But, unfortunately, this is the reality that most Europeans live. This is demonstrated by an investigation carried out by scientists from the Global Health Institute of Barcelona (Isglobal), driven by the La Caixa Foundation, who have elaborated Uncranging from European cities with greater mortality attributable to the lack of green spaces.

Spanish cities, such as Gijón (Post 4) or A Coruña (Position 10), are in the 'Top Ten' of this list, in which the Italian cities of Trieste and Turin are also located (Positions 1 and 2), La Belgian Brussels or the British Blackpool.

However, among the five cities of more than 100,000 inhabitants with lower mortality load associated with green spaces there are also three Spanish localities: Elche (at number 1), Telde (2) and Cartagena (5).

According to the data of this work, which has analyzed more than 1,000 cities from 31 European countries, 62% of the population analyzed lives in areas with fewer green spaces of those recommended. And that is associated with 42,968 deaths that would be avoidable if the WHO guidelines were followed, which advises to have a green space of at least 0.5 hectares at a distance of no more than 300 meters in a straight line from home.

To reach these conclusions, the team, led by researchers from the Urban Planning, Environment and Health Initiative, first made a calculation of green space available in each city. This analysis was performed through an indicators, the standardized difference vegetation index (NDVI), which takes into account any type of existing green area, from parks to the woodland of the street.

Then, taking into account mortality rates, he carried out a quantitative analysis of health impact and estimated the number of deaths that could have been avoided if the recommendations had been followed.

The results showed that almost 43,000 deaths could be avoided in the cities analyzed if more green spaces were accessible to citizens. These deaths, the researchers point out, equivalent to 2.3% of the total mortality. The data has just been published in the magazine The Lancet Planetary Health.

The ranking finally included a total of 866 cities, as the cities were grouped around the same metropolitan area.

"We need to break the asphalt and plant more trees," said a few days ago this newspaper Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, director of the Urban Planning, Environment and Health Initiative of Isglobal and Labor Signatory.

In cities not only need parks, but also vegetation in the streets, remarked the researcher, who remembered that doing more green cities not only involves multiple health benefits but also for the planet, as they contribute to reduce pollution levels , as well as heat and noise.

The work also showed that the distribution of green spaces is very unequal, both among the European cities studied and between the neighborhoods of the same city. "European cities must bet on the recovery of urban areas to convert them into green areas, for nature-based solutions, such as green rooftops or vertical gardens, and other measures such as relocating traffic and asphalt by green spaces and corridors Or urban tree. Likewise, our studies shows the importance of green space to be accessible and are close to home, "he said, in a statement, Nieuwenhuijsen.

The research conducted a second analysis using another index to evaluate the available green areas: the percentage of green area (% GA) that, unlike the NDVI, only takes into account the public spaces declared officially as green. This analysis showed a smaller number of preventable deaths: 17,000, although the researchers point out that the scientific evidence used in estimates are less robust than employees in the case of NDVI.

Either way, scientists recognize that work has limitations, as the fact of not having taken into account the presence of what they call blue spaces, such as rivers or beaches, which can also exert a beneficial effect on health.

The work is part of a series of urban health investigations that already published, in January 2021, a ranking on mortality load associated with two of the main air pollutants. According to his data, Madrid and Barcelona, are at the head of Europe in terms of mortality preventable by contamination.

If all the cities analyzed were able to comply with the levels recommended by the World Health Organization on Atmospheric Contamination (10 μg / m³ for fine particles of matter -PM2.5- and 40 μg / m³ for nitrogen dioxide -NO2- ), 51,000 and 900 premature deaths could be avoided each year, respectively. But if, in addition, all cities were able to equalize the lowest exposure recorded in Europe (3.7 μg / m3 for PM2.5 and 3.5 μg / m3 for NO2), avoidable mortality would be significantly higher and premature deaths avoidable to Year would ascend, respectively, to 125,000 and 79,000.

Updated Date: 08 October 2021, 05:29

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