Current Environmental Health Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 77–87 | Cite as

A Review of Epidemiologic Studies on Greenness and Health: Updated Literature Through 2017

  • Kelvin C. FongEmail author
  • Jaime E. Hart
  • Peter James
Susceptibility Factors in Environmental Health (B Ritz and Z Liew, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Susceptibility Factors in Environmental Health


Purpose of Review

Many studies suggest that exposure to natural vegetation, or greenness, may be beneficial for a variety of health outcomes. We summarize the recent research in this area.

Recent Findings

We observed consistent and strong evidence of associations for higher greenness with improvements in birth weights and physical activity, as well as lower mortality rates. Recent studies also suggested that exposure to greenness may lower levels of depression and depressive symptoms. The evidence on greenness and cardiovascular health remains mixed. Findings are also inconsistent for greenness measures and asthma and allergies.


Our knowledge of the impacts of greenness on a wide variety of health outcomes continues to evolve. Future research should incorporate information on specific species and some qualities of natural greenness that might drive health outcomes, integrate exposure assessments that incorporate personal mobility into analyses, and include prospective designs to add to the growing evidence that nature exposure positively affects health.


Greenness Green spaces Built environment Health benefits Mental health Urbanization 



Its contents are solely the responsibility of the grantee and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USEPA or the NIH. Further, USEPA and NIH do not endorse the purchase of any commercial products or services mentioned in the publication.

Funding Information

This publication was made possible by USEPA (RD-834798, RD-835872, RD-83615601-0) and NIH (R00 CA201542, P50 MD010428).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All reported studies/experiments with human or animal subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki Declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).

Supplementary material

40572_2018_179_MOESM1_ESM.docx (47 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 (DOCX 47 kb)


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental HealthHarvard TH Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Channing Division of Network MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Population MedicineHarvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care InstituteBostonUSA

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