May 14, 2007 -- In a first of its kind study, a research team based at Columbias Mailman School of Public Health found that changes in urban sprawl and climate that are projected to occur in the New York City metropolitan area by the 2050s could significantly affect air quality and health in the region. Findings suggest that urban sprawl alone could result in a 1F rise in average summer temperatures and a 16 percent increase in unhealthy levels of ozone during episodes.
This is the first successful attempt to simulate both weather and air quality due to climate and land use changes at a scale that is relevant to local and regional policy makers. Using a unique modeling system, the researchers were able to link climate change, land use change, and air quality, to predict sprawling development over this region in the year 2050 compared to present-day conditions. This new system makes it possible for the first time to examine the separate and joint influences of land use, climate and emissions changes on future environmental conditions and resulting health implications such as asthma attacks and difficulty in breathing, ER visits and hospitalizations, and even increased risk of death for vulnerable persons.
With a population exceeding 21 million people in the greater NYC metropolitan area, ongoing urbanization puts a significant strain on natural resources and impacts air pollution levels and regional climate. The study highlights the value of modeling systems that quantitatively assess the potential impacts of changes in climate, emissions and land use on environmental health in the region.
"As more land in this region is expected to be converted to human-dominated uses over the coming decades, it is of critical importance to evaluate the potential effects on public health and welfare," says Patrick Kinney,ScD, associate professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health and principal investigator o
Contact: Stephanie Berger
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health