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  • Author or Editor: Amy Snelgrove x
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The number of asthma cases in children has increased significantly in the last couple of decades. Studies on links between outdoor air pollutants and asthma have had mixed results, suggesting the need for more focused studies. An increase in tree plantings for urban areas is now being called upon as a solution to the higher heat indexes and pollution rates for more densely populated areas. Green spaces and trees could further benefit some urban areas by providing an effective means to improve air conditions. The purpose of this study was to assess whether there is a relationship between levels of vegetation and reported rates of childhood asthma in Texas. Childhood asthma data were collected from the Center for Health Statistics and the Texas Department of State Health Services for the years 2005 and 2006. The asthma rates for each metropolitan statistical area (MSA) were mapped and inserted into a corresponding vegetation map using geographical mapping software. A comparison of vegetation rates and asthma rates in metropolitan areas was used to investigate whether vegetation and tree cover led to higher or lower incidences of childhood asthma rates. Asthma data, normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and canopy cover data were analyzed using statistical software. Regression analysis and correlations were calculated to analyze the data for the tree coverage/vegetation rates and asthma rates variable. No statistically significant relationships between NDVI, canopy cover, and asthma were found in this study.

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One-third of Americans are reportedly living with extreme stress, with 75% to 90% of visits to primary care physicians being for stress-related problems. Past research found visiting green areas lowers blood pressure, reduces headache and fatigue, improves mood, and hastens recovery from stress. The main objective for this study was to determine if stress-related illness rates in regions of Texas were related to vegetation rates and tree canopy cover. Data on the stress-related illnesses of high blood pressure and heart attacks were collected from the Center for Health Statistics and the Texas Department of State Health Services for all 25 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in Texas. MSAs are counties or group of counties with a central city or urbanized area of at least 50,000 people. Percent canopy cover was calculated for each MSA using the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics National Land Cover Data canopy cover dataset. Vegetation rates for all the MSAs were examined and mapped for illustration using geographical information system (GIS) software. Visual relationships among the data were observed. Quantitative data were also analyzed. When mapping stress-related illness rate into MSA regions of Texas, no clear trend was observed with vegetation rates or percent tree canopy cover when compared with stress-related illness rates. Semipartial correlations were calculated to analyze the relationship between tree canopy cover and vegetation rate and stress-related illness rate variables after controlling the effect of external variables like income levels, age, population, and ethnicity. There was no significant positive or negative relationship found between stress-related illness data when compared with percent canopy and vegetation index for any the 25 MSAs of Texas.

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