Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

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Greening Neighborhoods to Improve Health

February 23, 2021

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Interviewee: Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D.

In this podcast, we’ll hear from NIEHS grantee Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., who leads the Green Heart Study, an ambitious and first of its kind project to examine the impacts of green neighborhoods on heart health.

Greening Neighborhoods to Improve Health

Trees add beauty and aesthetic appeal to neighborhoods, but they can also reduce air pollution and encourage people to get outside and be more physically and socially active. Scientists think these many benefits may have a positive impact on health.

In this podcast, we’ll hear from NIEHS grantee Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., who leads the Green Heart Study, an ambitious and first of its kind project to examine the impacts of green neighborhoods on heart health. Listen to learn how researchers are teaming up with community members to plant thousands of trees, shrubs, and grasses in Louisville, Kentucky neighborhoods to determine how going green affects resident health.

Interviewee: Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D.

Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D.

A leader in cardiovascular health, Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., has spent more than 35 years studying the impact of environmental factors on heart disease. He is widely regarded for spearheading the new field of environmental cardiology. His research, supported by several grants from the National Institutes of Health, has led to the publication of more than 375 research papers and 20 book chapters. He has mentored more than 55 students, fellows, and trainees.

Bhatnagar was awarded a five-year, $3 million grant from NIEHS to help fund the Green Heart Study, which is a unique partnership between NIEHS, The Nature Conservancy, and the Hyphae Design Labs in Oakland, California. In the initiative, NIEHS is funding assessment of the impact of green space on air quality and health in urban communities. The Nature Conservancy is supporting the planting of large mature trees using patterns of urban design developed by Hyphae Labs to lessen local air pollution.

At the University of Louisville, Bhatnagar serves as Director of the Christina Lee Brown Environment Institute, the Diabetes and Obesity Center, and American Heart Association Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center. He also leads the Research Translation Core in the NIEHS-funded University of Louisville Superfund Research Program Center.

Additional Resources

  • Watch videos from PBS NewsHour and The Nature Conservancy to learn more about the Green Heart Study.
  • Visit the Green Heart Study to stay up to date with project progress.
  • Read a 2019 NIEHS Environmental Factor article describing Bhatnagar’s research linking neighborhood greenness to changes in the body related to heart health.

Relevant References

Riggs DW, Yeager R, Conklin DJ, DeJarnett N, Keith RJ, DeFilippis AP, Rai SN, Bhatnagar A. 2021. Residential Proximity to Greenness Mitigates the Hemodynamic Effects of Ambient Air Pollution. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol; doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00689.2020. [Online 8 Jan 2021]. [Abstract Riggs DW, Yeager R, Conklin DJ, DeJarnett N, Keith RJ, DeFilippis AP, Rai SN, Bhatnagar A. 2021. Residential Proximity to Greenness Mitigates the Hemodynamic Effects of Ambient Air Pollution. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol; doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00689.2020. [Online 8 Jan 2021].]

Yeager R, Riggs DW, DeJarnett N, Tollerud DJ, Wilson J, Conklin DJ, O'Toole TE, McCracken J, Lorkiewicz P, Xie Z, Zafar N, Krishnasamy SS, Srivastava S, Finch J, Keith RJ, DeFilippis A, Rai SN, Liu G, Bhatnagar A. 2018. Association Between Residential Greenness and Cardiovascular Disease Risk. J Am Heart Assoc 7(24):e009117. [Abstract Yeager R, Riggs DW, DeJarnett N, Tollerud DJ, Wilson J, Conklin DJ, O'Toole TE, McCracken J, Lorkiewicz P, Xie Z, Zafar N, Krishnasamy SS, Srivastava S, Finch J, Keith RJ, DeFilippis A, Rai SN, Liu G, Bhatnagar A. 2018. Association Between Residential Greenness and Cardiovascular Disease Risk. J Am Heart Assoc 7(24):e009117.] [Full Text Yeager R, Riggs DW, DeJarnett N, Tollerud DJ, Wilson J, Conklin DJ, O'Toole TE, McCracken J, Lorkiewicz P, Xie Z, Zafar N, Krishnasamy SS, Srivastava S, Finch J, Keith RJ, DeFilippis A, Rai SN, Liu G, Bhatnagar A. 2018. Association Between Residential Greenness and Cardiovascular Disease Risk. J Am Heart Assoc 7(24):e009117.]