TitleHealthy built environment: Spatial patterns and relationships of multiple exposures and deprivation in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsDoiron, D, Setton, EM, Shairsingh, K, Brauer, M, Hystad, P, Ross, NA, Brook, JR
JournalEnviron Int
Date Published07/2020

BACKGROUND: Various aspects of the urban environment and neighbourhood socio-economic status interact with each other to affect health. Few studies to date have quantitatively assessed intersections of multiple urban environmental factors and their distribution across levels of deprivation.

OBJECTIVES: To explore the spatial patterns of urban environmental exposures within three large Canadian cities, assess how exposures are distributed across socio-economic deprivation gradients, and identify clusters of favourable or unfavourable environmental characteristics.

METHODS: We indexed nationally standardized estimates of active living friendliness (i.e. "walkability"), NO air pollution, and greenness to 6-digit postal codes within the cities of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. We compared the distribution of within-city exposure tertiles across quintiles of material deprivation. Tertiles of each exposure were then overlaid with each other in order to identify potentially favorable (high walkability, low NO, high greenness) and unfavorable (low walkability, high NO, and low greenness) environments.

RESULTS: In all three cities, high walkability was more common in least deprived areas and less prevalent in highly deprived areas. We also generally saw a greater prevalence of postal codes with high vegetation indices and low NO in areas with low deprivation, and a lower greenness prevalence and higher NO concentrations in highly deprived areas, suggesting environmental inequity is occurring. Our study showed that relatively few postal codes were simultaneously characterized by desirable or undesirable walkability, NOand greenness tertiles.

DISCUSSION: Spatial analyses of multiple standardized urban environmental factors such as the ones presented in this manuscript can help refine municipal investments and policy priorities. This study illustrates a methodology to prioritize areas for interventions that increase active living and exposure to urban vegetation, as well as lower air pollution. Our results also highlight the importance of considering the intersections between the built environment and socio-economic status in city planning and urban public health decision-making.

Alternate JournalEnviron Int
PubMed ID32763633