Green space, air pollution, traffic noise and mental wellbeing throughout adolescence: Findings from the PIAMA study

Environ Int. 2022 May:163:107197. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2022.107197. Epub 2022 Mar 24.


Background: Green space, air pollution and traffic noise exposure may be associated with mental health in adolescents. We assessed the associations of long-term exposure to residential green space, ambient air pollution and traffic noise with mental wellbeing from age 11 to 20 years.

Methods: We included 3059 participants of the Dutch PIAMA birth cohort who completed the five-item Mental Health Inventory (MHI-5) at ages 11, 14, 17 and/or 20 years. We estimated exposure to green space (the average Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and percentages of green space in circular buffers of 300 m, 1000 m and 3000 m), ambient air pollution (particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide, PM2.5 absorbance and the oxidative potential of PM2.5) and road traffic and railway noise (Lden) at the adolescents' home addresses at the times of completing the MHI-5. Associations with poor mental wellbeing (MHI-5 score ≤ 60) were assessed by generalized linear mixed models with a logit link, adjusting for covariates.

Results: The odds of poor mental wellbeing at age 11 to 20 years decreased with increasing exposure to green space in a 3000 m buffer (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 0.78 [95% CI 0.68-0.88] per IQR increase in the average NDVI; adjusted OR 0.77 [95% CI 0.67-0.88] per IQR increase in the total percentage of green space). These associations persisted after adjustment for air pollution and road traffic noise. Relationships between mental wellbeing and green space in buffers of 300 m and 1000 m were less consistent. Higher air pollution exposure was associated with higher odds of poor mental wellbeing, but these associations were strongly attenuated after adjustment for green space in a buffer of 3000 m, traffic noise and degree of urbanization. Traffic noise was not related to mental wellbeing throughout adolescence.

Conclusions: Residential exposure to green space may be associated with a better mental wellbeing in adolescents.

Keywords: Adolescents; Environmental exposures; MHI-5; NDVI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants* / analysis
  • Air Pollution* / analysis
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Humans
  • Parks, Recreational
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Traffic-Related Pollution*
  • Young Adult


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter