Surrounding greenness and exposure to air pollution during pregnancy: an analysis of personal monitoring data

Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Sep;120(9):1286-90. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1104609. Epub 2012 May 30.


Background: Green spaces are reported to improve health status, including beneficial effects on pregnancy outcomes. Despite the suggestions of air pollution-related health benefits of green spaces, there is no available evidence on the impact of greenness on personal exposure to air pollution.

Objectives: We investigated the association between surrounding greenness and personal exposure to air pollution among pregnant women and to explore the potential mechanisms, if any, behind this association.

Methods: In total, 65 rounds of sampling were carried out for 54 pregnant women who resided in Barcelona during 2008-2009. Each round consisted of a 2-day measurement of particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm (PM₂.₅) and a 1-week measurement of nitric oxides collected simultaneously at both the personal and microenvironmental levels. The study participants were also asked to fill out a time-microenvironment-activity diary during the sampling period. We used satellite retrievals to determine the surrounding greenness as the average of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in a buffer of 100 m around each maternal residential address. We estimated the impact of surrounding greenness on personal exposure levels, home-outdoor and home-indoor pollutant levels, and maternal time-activity.

Results: Higher residential surrounding greenness was associated with lower personal, home-indoor, and home-outdoor PM₂.₅ levels, and more time spent at home-outdoor.

Conclusions: We found lower levels of personal exposure to air pollution among pregnant women residing in greener areas. This finding may be partly explained by lower home-indoor pollutant levels and more time spent in less polluted home-outdoor environment by pregnant women in greener areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution / analysis*
  • Cities
  • Climate
  • Environment*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nitrogen Oxides / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Seasons
  • Spain


  • Air Pollutants
  • Nitrogen Oxides
  • Particulate Matter