Urban vegetation and heat-related mortality in Seoul, Korea.


Son J-Y, Lane KJ, Lee J-T, Bell ML. Urban vegetation and heat-related mortality in Seoul, Korea. Environmental Research 2016;151:728-733.


Urban areas are particularly vulnerable to heat-related health outcomes. Simultaneous trends of climate change and urbanization may increase the urban heat-related health burden. We investigated the effects of urban vegetation on heat-related mortality, and evaluated whether different levels of vegetation and individuals' characteristics affect the temperature-mortality associations within Seoul, Korea 2000-2009. We used Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) to assess the urban vegetation within Seoul. We applied an overdispersed Poisson generalized linear model with interaction term between temperature and indicator of NDVI group (categorized in 3 levels) to assess the effect modification of the temperature-mortality association by urban vegetation. We conducted stratified analysis to explore whether associations are affected by individual characteristics of sex and age. The association between total mortality and a 1°C increase in temperature above the 90th percentile (25.1°C) (the "heat effect") was the highest for gus with low NDVI. The heat effect was a 4.1% (95% confidence interval (CI) 2.3, 5.9%), 3.0% (95% CI 0.2, 5.9%), and 2.2% (95% CI -0.5, 5.0%) increase in mortality risk for low, medium, and high NDVI group, respectively. Estimated risks showed similar effects by sex and age. Our findings suggest a higher mortality effect of high temperature in areas with lower vegetation in Seoul, Korea.