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Study Links Poorly Planned Green Infrastructure With Spread of Diseases

Certain Types of Wildlife Can Increase Disease Risks

Study Links Poorly Planned Green Infrastructure With Spread of Diseases

When properly planned, green infrastructure provides many benefits to humans and wildlife, but improper designs pose serious health risk factors, according to a report.

According to The Stormwater Report, published by The Water Environment Foundation, green infrastructure designs that do not consider the effects of the installation's placement, can spread serious diseases. The type of wildlife the design may attract increases the risks. The study was published in the journal, Ecology and Epidemiology.

Mare LAuhmus, professor of environmental medicine at Karolinska Institutet, noted that people assume that all nature is good, adding "Little thought is given to what can wrong."

For example, trees planted on roadway medians improve stormwater retention and decrease urban heat island effects, but some tree and grass species release volatile organic compounds that can contribute to air pollution, the research shows.

While some plant species are beneficial to wildlife species, they are not always beneficial to humans because they attract rats, mosquitos and other pests capable of spreading disease.

Researchers suggest that planners consult with ecologists and public health experts in the early design phase to identify health risk factors to help prevent unintended consequences.

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August 17, 2019, 10:50 am PDT

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