Long-term association between urban air ventilation and mortality in Hong Kong

Environ Res. 2021 Jun:197:111000. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111000. Epub 2021 Mar 19.


While associations between population health outcomes and some urban design characteristics, such as green space, urban heat islands (UHI), and walkability, have been well studied, no prior studies have examined the association of urban air ventilation and health outcomes. This study used data from Hong Kong, a densely populated city, to explore the association between urban air ventilation and mortality during 2008-2014. Frontal area density (FAD), was used to measure urban ventilation, with higher FAD indicating poorer ventilation, due to structures blocking wind penetration. Negative binomial regression models were constructed to regress mortality counts for each 5-year age group, gender, and small area group, on small area level variables including green space density, population density and socioeconomic indicators. An interquartile range increase in FAD was significantly associated with a 10% (95% confidence interval (CI) 2%-19%, p = 0.019) increase in all-cause mortality and a 21% (95% CI: 2%-45%, p = 0.030) increase in asthma mortality, and non-significantly associated with a 9% (95% CI: 1%-19%, p = 0.073) in cardio-respiratory mortality. Better urban ventilation can help disperse vehicle-related pollutants and allow moderation of UHIs, and for a coastal city may allow moderation of cold temperatures. Urban planning should take ventilation into account. Further studies on urban ventilation and health outcomes from different settings are needed.

Keywords: Air ventilation; Health; Mortality; Urban design; Wind.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants* / analysis
  • Cities
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Mortality
  • Ventilation
  • Wind


  • Air Pollutants