The impact of green stormwater infrastructure installation on surrounding health and safety

Am J Public Health. 2015 Mar;105(3):e114-21. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302314. Epub 2015 Jan 20.


Objectives: We investigated the health and safety effects of urban green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) installments.

Methods: We conducted a difference-in-differences analysis of the effects of GSI installments on health (e.g., blood pressure, cholesterol and stress levels) and safety (e.g., felonies, nuisance and property crimes, narcotics crimes) outcomes from 2000 to 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We used mixed-effects regression models to compare differences in pre- and posttreatment measures of outcomes for treatment sites (n=52) and randomly chosen, matched control sites (n=186) within multiple geographic extents surrounding GSI sites.

Results: Regression-adjusted models showed consistent and statistically significant reductions in narcotics possession (18%-27% less) within 16th-mile, quarter-mile, half-mile (P<.001), and eighth-mile (P<.01) distances from treatment sites and at the census tract level (P<.01). Narcotics manufacture and burglaries were also significantly reduced at multiple scales. Nonsignificant reductions in homicides, assaults, thefts, public drunkenness, and narcotics sales were associated with GSI installation in at least 1 geographic extent.

Conclusions: Health and safety considerations should be included in future assessments of GSI programs. Subsequent studies should assess mechanisms of this association.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Crime / prevention & control
  • Crime / psychology
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data
  • Drainage, Sanitary / methods
  • Drainage, Sanitary / standards*
  • Ecosystem
  • Environment Design*
  • Humans
  • Nature
  • Philadelphia
  • Plants
  • Rain
  • Regression Analysis
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Safety*
  • Sewage
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Urban Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Water Quality / standards*


  • Sewage