Associations between Living Near Water and Risk of Mortality among Urban Canadians

Environ Health Perspect. 2018 Jul 24;126(7):077008. doi: 10.1289/EHP3397. eCollection 2018 Jul.

Abstract

Background: Increasing evidence suggests that residential exposures to natural environments, such as green spaces, are associated with many health benefits. Only a single study has examined the potential link between living near water and mortality.

Objective: We sought to examine whether residential proximity to large, natural water features (e.g., lakes, rivers, coasts, "blue space") was associated with cause-specific mortality.

Methods: Our study is based on a population-based cohort of nonimmigrant adults living in the 30 largest Canadian cities [i.e., the 2001 Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort) (CanCHEC)]. Subjects were drawn from the mandatory 2001 Statistics Canada long-form census, who were linked to the Canadian mortality database and to annual income-tax filings, through 2011. We estimated associations between living within of blue space and deaths from several common causes of death. We adjusted models for many personal and contextual covariates, as well as for exposures to residential greenness and ambient air pollution.

Results: Our cohort included approximately 1.3 million subjects at baseline, 106,180 of whom died from nonaccidental causes during follow-up. We found significant, reduced risks of mortality in the range of 12-17% associated with living within of water in comparison with living farther away, among all causes of death examined, except with external/accidental causes. Protective effects were found to be higher among women and all older adults than among other subjects, and protective effects were found to be highest against deaths from stroke and respiratory-related causes.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that living near blue spaces in urban areas has important benefits to health, but further work is needed to better understand the drivers of this association. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP3397.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environment*
  • Lakes
  • Mortality*
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / analysis
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Ozone / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Rivers
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*

Substances

  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Ozone
  • Nitrogen Dioxide

Grant support