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Researchers discover links between city walkability and air pollution exposure
Date:11/2/2009

A new study compares neighborhoods' walkability (degree of ease for walking) with local levels of air pollution and finds that some neighborhoods might be good for walking, but have poor air quality. Researchers involved in the study include University of Minnesota faculty member Julian Marshall and University of British Columbia faculty Michael Brauer and Lawrence Frank.

The findings highlight the need for urban design to consider both walkability and air pollution, recognizing that neighborhoods with high levels of one pollutant may have low levels of another pollutant.

The study, done for the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, is the first of its kind to compare the two environmental attributes, and suggests potential environmental health effects of neighborhood location, layout and design for cities around the globe.

The research study is published in the November 2009 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, the peer-reviewed journal of the United States' National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The research team found that, on average, neighborhoods downtown are more walkable and have high levels of some pollutants, while suburban locations are less walkable and have high levels of different pollutants. Neighborhoods that fare well for pollution and walkability tend to be a few miles away from the downtown area. These "win-win" urban residential neighborhoods--which avoid the downtown and the suburban air pollution plus exhibit good walkability--are rare, containing only about two percent of the population studied. Census data indicate that these neighborhoods are relatively high-income, suggesting that they are desirable places to live. Neighborhoods that fare poorly for both pollution and walkability tend to be in the suburbs and are generally middle-income.

"Research has shown that exposure to air pollution adversely affects
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Contact: Patty Mattern
mattern@umn.edu
612-624-2801
University of Minnesota
Source:Eurekalert

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