by PL Winter, PE Padgett, LS Milburn, W Li
Environmental Management 63:379-3952019
Urban parks provide important services to residents and will increase in importance under climate change. This will be especially true for underserved communities who have usually have pre-existing health conditions and a higher risk burden. However, previous research has found an inequitable distribution of air pollution, especially ozone, around urban parks. This study researched park use and exposure to ozone in four Los Angeles communities, two affluent and two disadvantaged, located both along the coast and inland.
Results showed that 70% of the observations took place in the two disadvantaged communities. Physical activity levels varied; men, teenagers, and children made up more of the observations and thus had higher exposures. In terms of ozone exposure, Latino recreationists had significantly higher exposures than all other observed ethnic/racial groups. Additionally, parks in the disadvantaged communities also had higher levels of ozone, increasing the inequity in exposure. Finally, the authors found no significant difference in ozone exposure between one of the disadvantaged community parks and one of the affluent community parks that was inland. Further monitoring was advised as the results suggest that even in affluent communities, especially inland areas, exposure levels are still potentially concerning.
The authors concluded that the benefits of urban green space are improved when the planning process includes the interests and needs of the diverse neighborhoods. They also suggest targeted communications to the more sensitive populations, such as seniors and communities of color, around the risk of ozone exposure and mitigation options. The article concludes by warning that the social-ecological issues highlighted by this study are projected to increase with continued climate change and equitable access to green spaces and good quality air will become more important.