New Article: Stress recovery from virtual exposure to a brown (desert) environment versus a green environment

The beneficial association between nature contact and human health is often explained with psycho-evolutionary frameworks such as stress reduction theory and the savanna hypothesis. However, evidence is limited on how natural environments that are not green affect stress. One example is the desert, which does not offer affordances for nourishment or safety in an evolutionary sense. In this study, we determine the effect of a virtual reality (VR) exposure to…

New Article: Perceptions of green space usage, abundance, and quality of green space were associated with better mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic among residents of Denver

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted both physical and mental health. This study aimed to understand whether exposure to green space buffered against stress and distress during the COVID-19 pandemic while taking into account significant stressors of the pandemic. Read more about JPB Fellow Colleen Reid’s study on the benefits of green space exposure during the pandemic was published this week. This work is co-authored by her students Emma Rieves and…

New Article: “I Can’t Breathe”: Examining the Legacy of American Racism on Determinants of Health and the Ongoing Pursuit of Environmental Justice

“I can’t breathe” were the last words spoken by Eric Garner (July 17, 2014), Javier Ambler (March 28, 2019), Elijah McClain (August 30, 2019), Manuel Ellis (March 3, 2020), and George Floyd (May 25, 2020). These were all African American men who died at the hands of police in the United States. Recently, police brutality has gained critical and overdue attention as one clear manifestation of systemic racism. However, historical…

Interactive web series explores environmental racism

When it comes to exposures to environmental hazards, people of color and low-income groups tend to get the short end of the stick. They are more likely than other groups to live close to highways or power plants; to live in housing with lead, pest, or other problems; and to be exposed to hazardous chemicals in personal care products. A new series of web resources titled Environmental Racism in Greater Boston, produced by experts at…

Heat, housing and the horrific Bronx fire

By JPB Fellow Diana Hernandez The fire that killed 17 New Yorkers in the Bronx on Jan. 9 was utterly heart-wrenching. Based on what we know now, three discrete factors contributed to this tragedy: a continuously running space heater that malfunctioned, two doors that did not self-close, and smoke detectors that seem to have gone off so frequently that residents learned to ignore the false alarms. Focusing on these issues alone belies the larger problem:…

UM’s School of Public Health ups the ante on Native land acknowledgements

When D’Shane Barnett first heard a land acknowledgement about four years ago, he thought the statement recognizing that Missoula is on land traditionally occupied by Indigenous people was powerful. But Barnett, the director and health officer of the Missoula City-County Health Department, said the statements have since lost some of their impact. “It’s like the first time that you tell someone you love them,” said Barnett, who is from the…

Making the board: participatory game design for environmental action

The US state of Arizona is historically known as a rich source of helium-bearing gas, and market pressures have renewed interest in extracting helium throughout the state’s Holbrook Basin. In response, a group of concerned residents emerged to educate the public and engage with regulators. However, the obscurities of the helium industry and regulatory frameworks complicated the group’s efforts. This paper details a participatory action research project called Helium Futures, a…

New Book: Ambient Combustion Ultrafine Particles and Health

This edited and peer reviewed volume contains a collection of articles from many disciplines that address the emerging issue of ambient ultrafine particles derived from combustion sources and their health effects. The authors are published experts with respect to ultrafine particles. They write about diverse aspects of the problem including epidemiology, environmental engineering, toxicology, policy, architecture and medicine. Each chapter provides a thoroughly referenced review of the respective subject matter.…

Restoring Mother Nature for everyone

Parks and green spaces encourage physical activity, improve social cohesion, boost mental health and more. Yet lack of access and availability, as well as racist practices like redlining and over-policing, mean not every community gets to take advantage of such benefits. At a Tuesday APHA 2021 session on “Parks and Public Spaces: Working to Achieve Health Equity,” presenters shared how they work to increase park equity and how we can…