Built and Natural Environments


One of our growing areas of focus is the health effects of exposures to the built and natural environments, including greenness and walkability. Below are key papers from our group in this area and details of ongoing projects. We are always looking for exceptional students and postdoctoral fellows interested in research in this area.

Key Built and Natural Environment Papers

  • James P, Banay RF, Hart JE, Laden F. A review of the health benefits of greenness. Curr Epidemiol Rep. 2015: 2(2):131-42. PubMed PMID: 26185745. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4500194.
  • James P, Hart JE, Banay RF, Laden F. Exposure to greenness and mortality in a nationwide prospective cohort of women. Environ Health Perspect. 2016; 124(9): 1344-52. PubMed PMID: 27074702. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5010419.
  • Banay RF, Bezold C, James P, Hart JE, Laden F. Residential greenness: current perspectives on its impact on maternal health and pregnancy outcomes (review). Int J Women’s Health. 2017; 9:133-44. PubMed PMID: 28280395. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5338951.
  • Fong K, Hart JE, James P. A review of epidemiologic studies on greenness and health: Updated literature through 2017. Curr Environ Health Rep. 2018; 5(1):77-87. PubMed PMID: 29392643; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5878143.

Recent Papers

  • Chen K, Klompmaker JO, Roscoe CJ, Nguyen LH, Drew DA, James P, Laden F, Wolf J, Stevens CJ, Spector TM, Chan AT, Hart JE. Associations between greenness and predicted COVID-19 like illness incidence in the U.S. and U.K. Environ Epidemiol. in press.
  • Klompmaker JO, Hart JE, Bailey CR, Browning MHEM, Casey JA, Hanley JR, Minson CT, Ogletree SS, Rigolon A, Laden F, James P. Racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in multiple measures of blue and green spaces in the United States. Environ Health Perspect. 2023; 131(1): 17007. PubMed PMID: 36696102; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC9875842
  • Klompmaker JO, Laden F, Browning MHEM, Dominici, Jimenez MP, Ogletree SS, Rigolon A, Zanobetti A, Hart JE, James P. Exploration of vegetation index, parks, and blue space and neurodegenerative disease hospitalizations among elderly US adults. JAMA Network Open. 2022 5(12): e2247664. PubMed PMID: 36049575
  • Klompmaker JO, Laden F, Browning MHEM, Dominici D, Ogletree SS, Rigolon A, Hart JE, James P*. Associations of parks, greenness, and blue space with cardiovascular and respiratory disease hospitalization in the US Medicare cohort. Environ Pollution. 2022; 312:120046. PubMed PMID: 3604957
  • Marquet O, Hirsch JA, Kerr J, Jankowska MM, Mitchell J, Hart JE, Laden F, Hipp JA, James P. GPS-based activity space exposure to greenness and walkability is associated increased accelerometer-based physical activity. Environ Int. 2022. 165; 107317. PubMed PMID: 35660954
  • Jimenez MP, Elliot EG, DeVille NV, Laden F, Hart JE, Weuve J, Grodstein F, James P. Residential greenspace and cognitive function in a large cohort of middle-aged women. JAMA Network Open. 2022. 5(4): e229306. PubMed PMID: 35476063; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC9047638.
  • Iyer HS, Hart JE, Elliott EG, DeVille NV, Holmes MD, DeVivo I, Mucci LA, Laden F. Rebbeck TR. Impact of neighborhood socioeconomic status, income segregation, and greenness on blood biomarkers of inflammation. Environ Int. 2022; 162:107164. PubMed PMID: 35255255; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8985077.
  • Klompmaker J, Hart JE, Holland I, Sabath MB, Wu X, Laden F, Dominici F, James P. County-level exposures to greenness and associations with COVID-19 incidence and mortality in the United States. Environ Res. 2021; 199:111331. Pubmed PMID: 34004166; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8123933.
  • Iyer HS, James P, Valeri L, Bajunirwe F, Nankya-Mutyoba J, Njelekela M, Chiwanga F, Sewram V, Ajayi I, Adebamowo C, Dalal S, Reid TG, Rebbeck TR, Adami HO, Holmes MD. Neighborhood greenness and burden of non-communicable diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa: A multi-country cross-sectional study. Environ Res. 2021 May;196:110397. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110397. Epub 2020 Oct 31. PMID: 33130166; PMCID: PMC8085185.
  • Iyer HS, James P, Valeri L, Hart JE, Pernar CH, Mucci LA, Holmes MD, Laden F, Rebbeck TR. The association between neighborhood greenness and incidence of lethal prostate cancer: A prospective cohort study. Environ Epidemiol. 2020 Apr 9;4(2):e091. doi: 10.1097/EE9.0000000000000091. PMID: 32656487; PMCID: PMC7319229.
  • Iyer HS, Valeri L, James P, Chen JT, Hart JE, Laden F, Holmes MD, Rebbeck TR. The contribution of residential greenness to mortality among men with prostate cancer: a registry-based cohort study of Black and White men. Environ Epidemiol. 2020 Apr 9;4(2):e087. doi: 10.1097/EE9.0000000000000087. PMID: 32337472; PMCID: PMC7147390.
  • Li L, Hart JE, Coull B, Cao S, Spengler J, Adamkiewicz G. Effect of residential greenness and nearby parks on respiratory and allergic diseases among middle school adolescents in a Chinese city. Int J Environ Health Res Pub Health. 2019; 16(6): E991. PubMed PMID: 30893887. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6466062.
  • Yitshak Sade M, James P, Kloog I, Hart JE, Schwartz S, Laden F, Lane K, Fabian P, Fong K, Zanobetti A. Neighborhood greenness attenuates the adverse effect of PM2.5 on cardiovascular mortality in neighborhoods of lower socioeconomic status. Int J Environ Health Res Pub Health. 2019; 16(5): E814. PubMed PMID: 30845676. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6427452.
  • Banay RF, James P, Hart JE, Kubzansky LD, Spiegelman D, Okereke OI, Spengler JD, Laden F. Greenness and depression incidence among older women. Environ Health Perspect. 2019; 127(2): 27001. PubMed PMID: 30735068. PubMed Central PMCID in progress.
  • Ji JS, Zhu A, Bai C, Wu CD, Yan L, Tang S, Zeng Y, James P. Residential greenness and mortality in oldest-old women and men in China: a longitudinal cohort study. Lancet Planet Health. 2019; 3(1): e17-e25. PubMed PMID: 30654864. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6358124.
  • Fong KC, Kloog I, Coull BA, Koutrakis P, Laden F, Schwartz JD, James P. Residential greenness and birthweight in the state of Massachusetts, USA. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018; 15(6): E1248. PubMed PMID:29895795. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6025231.

Current Funding

NIH/NIEHS R01 ES029840-01A1: Early life exposure to the natural, built, and social environments and incident hypertension

Diet, obesity, and physical activity are known risk factors, and a growing body of evidence suggests that exposures to air pollution are also associated with risk; however, to date, no study has been able to examine the role of multiple environmental exposures throughout childhood on risk of subsequent hypertension in adulthood, nor how environmental exposures interact with features of the built and social environments to influence risk. We aim to explore the impacts of features of the natural, built, and social environments throughout childhood on risk of hypertension in adulthood, to provide valuable information for future risk assessments and population level prevention.

NIH/NIEHS R01 ES0262460: Statistical Methods to Account for Exposure Uncertainty in Environmental Epidemiology

In this proposed research, we will take a life course approach, as consistent with NIEHS strategic priorities, focusing on methodological needs in several critical areas of environmental health, including the effects of constituents of air pollution and of aspects of the neighborhood environment on cardiovascular disease and its precursors and consequences, including all-cause mortality, obesity, type 2 diabetes and subclinical cardiovascular biomarkers.

NIH/NIEHS R01 ES028033: Relationship Between Multiple Environmental Exposures and CVD Incidence and Survival: Vulnerability and Susceptibility

The major goals of the proposed project are to study associations of multiple environmental exposures on cardiovascular disease (CVD), mortality and survival after a non-fatal CVD event in the context of multiple confounders and effect modifications. We will be developing new statistical methods, assessing air pollution (particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone) and weather (e.g. temperature variability) as main effects, and evaluating effect modification by contextual, lifestyle and genetic factors

NIH/NCI R00 CA201542: High Resolution Measures of Behavioral Cancer Risk Factors from Mobile Technology

This project is exploring the relationships between geographic context, physical activity, sleep, and obesity by deploying smartphone applications and wearable devices within a subsample (n=500) of the Nurses’ Health Study 3 (NHS3).