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Earth Medicine Science

Death of Trees Correlated With Human Cardiovascular & Respiratory Disease 152

eldavojohn writes "PBS's NewsHour interviewed Geoffrey Donovan on his recent research published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine that noted a correlation between trees (at least the 22 North American ash varieties) and human health: 'Well my basic hypothesis was that trees improve people's health. And if that's true, then killing 100 million of them in 10 years should have an effect. So if we take away these 100 million trees, does the health of humans suffer? We found that it does.' The basis of this research is Agrilus planipennis, the emerald ash borer, has systematically destroyed 100 million trees in the eastern half of the United States since 2002. After accounting for all variables, the research found that an additional 15,000 people died from cardiovascular disease and 6,000 more from lower respiratory disease in the 15 states infected with the bug, compared with uninfected areas of the country. While the exact cause and effect remains unknown, this research appears to be reinforcing data for people who regularly enjoy forest bathing as well as providing evidence that the natural environment provides major public health benefits."
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Death of Trees Correlated With Human Cardiovascular & Respiratory Disease

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  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @03:51PM (#43977541) Homepage Journal

    By that criterion, no study of anything ever has been good enough because we NEVER know for a fact that we have covered all variables.

    'good enough' is only knowable in retrospect since at the time, we (by definition) didn't know about the unknown variables..

  • Re:Bad science (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pspahn ( 1175617 ) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @04:19PM (#43977861)

    Not only that, but ash are a tree that does this better than others. There is a reason ash are commonly used as a 'street tree', and that is because they are effective cleaners of the particulates in the air while remaining healthy themselves.

    I think an interesting extension of the study would be to look at any similar effects found in the West as a result of MPB (Mountain Pine Beetle). I'm not sure how different the loss of biomass is between MPB and EAB, but I can say I've never seen ash forests tens of thousands of acres in size be completely devastated where tree mortality is clearly over 90%.

    With MPB, you have a much larger (and concentrated) loss of biomass while at the same time it is occurring in less densely populated (human-wise) geographies.

The best defense against logic is ignorance.