Mediation pathways and effects of green structures on respiratory mortality via reducing air pollution
Previous studies have shown both health and environmental benefits of green spaces, especially in moderating temperature and reducing air pollution. However, the characteristics of green structures have been overlooked in previous investigations. In addition, the mediation effects of green structures on respiratory mortality have not been assessed. This study explores the potential mediation pathways and effects of green structure characteristics on respiratory mortality through temperature, primary and secondary air pollutants separately using partial least squares model with data from Taiwan. The measurable characteristics of green structure include the largest patch percentage, landscape proportion, aggregation, patch distance, and fragmentation. The results showed that mortality of pneumonia and chronic lower respiratory diseases could be reduced by minimizing fragmentation and increasing the largest patch percentage of green structure, and the mediation effects are mostly through reducing air pollutants rather than temperature. Moreover, a high proportion of but fragmented green spaces would increase secondary air pollutants and enhance health risks; demonstrating the deficiency of traditional greening policy with primary focus on coverage ratio. This is the first research focusing on mediation effects of green structure characteristics on respiratory mortality, revealing that appropriate green structure planning can be a useful complementary strategy in environmental health management.