Investigating the impact of environmental greenspace exposure on telomere length

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Greenspaces, composed of vegetation such as lawns, street trees, and parks, are associated with a variety of benefits to mental and physical health. The effect of green, vegetated landscapes on human health has been investigated from the level of specific health behaviors and outcomes, self-reported measures of well-being, and quality of life, but little work has identified biological mechanisms behind these associations. Our project investigates a pathway that greenspace environments might influence health at the cellular level, via the preservation of telomere length. Telomeres are structures on the ends of DNA and play a role in cell regeneration and aging. The length of telomeres can be impacted by stressors in the environment and could be an epigenetic factor in disease and individual health. Greenspace is an environmental condition that varies across residential areas and could influence telomere length through stress regulation, physical activity opportunities, air quality improvements, or other impacts. Little research has been done on the relationship that environmental greenspace may have on telomere length, and therefore disease, cellular health, and aging.
Our project seeks to explore the relationship between greenspace exposure and telomere length in a large sample from the United States. We incorporate public and restricted data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in the United States to establish an initial investigation of the relationship. NHANES 1999-2002 collected biospecimens from which telomere length was determined for approximately 7,200 individuals. Using the extensive examination and laboratory data from NHANES combined with time-matched environmental data on greenspace exposure from satellite imagery, this study serves as a pilot project to investigate the association of the greenspace environment and telomere length. The presentation will highlight the process of accessing restricted health data and present initial results.
Period23 Jun 2022
Event titleInternational Medical Geography Symposium (IMGS)
Event typeConference
LocationEdinburgh, United KingdomShow on map