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GWI “Water Conversations” Series: Does living near water and greenness impact the mortality of Canadian urbanites? Findings from the Canadian Census Cohort

April 19, 2018 at 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Location:3235 Mackenzie
Key Contact:Christiane Mineau
Contact Phone:(613)520-2600 x2516

This Edition of Water Conversations is co-hosted by the Carleton’s Health Research Centre, the Canadian Health Adaptations, Innovations & Mobilization (CHAIM) Centre.

Speaker: Paul Villeneuve of Carleton University’s Health Sciences Department.

The waterside city of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Abstract: A number of epidemiological studies have shown that exposure to natural environments, such as green space, are associated with many health benefits. To date, few studies have looked at the potential link between living near water and mortality. We evaluated whether living near large, natural water features (e.g., lakes, rivers, coasts, “blue space”) as well as greenspace was associated with cause-specific mortality in a population-based cohort of non-immigrant, adults living in the 30 largest Canadian cities. Our cohort consisted of individuals who completed the mandatory 2001 Statistics Canada long-form census (1 in 5 households). These individuals were inked to the Canadian mortality database, and to annual income tax filings, through 2011. We estimated associations between living within 250 m of blue space and green space and several common causes of death. We adjusted models for many personal and contextual covariates, as well as for exposures to ambient air pollution. Our cohort included approximately 1·3 million subjects at baseline, 106,180 of whom died from non-accidental causes during follow-up. There were slight differences in sociodemographic characteristics between individuals living by water and not, but model point estimates changed only slightly with the inclusion of a comprehensive set of confounding factors. We reduced risks of mortality in the range of 12-17% associated with living within 250 m of water compared to living further away, among all causes of death examined, except with external/accidental causes. Similar inverse associations were noted for measures of greenness. Our findings suggest that living near nature has important benefits to health, but further work is needed to better understand the drivers of this association.

Click here to find out more about Paul Villeneuve and his research activities at Carleton University.