The Canopy Continuum Project seeks to explore the link between environmental quality and human health. In the summers of 2018 and 2019, we will visit 5 US Cities to measure air quality and learn about maternal health statistics in order to answer the question: what effect does prenatal exposure to pollution have on the developing child?


Human health is affected by the natural environment, and children are especially vulnerable to detrimental health effects of unhealthy urban environments. Lack of access to green urban areas has been linked to childhood respiratory disease, as well as poor health at birth.

Trees provide many environmental benefits that have a direct positive effect on human health. Some of these benefits include:

    • cooling
    • air filtration
    • sun protection
    • improved mental health

Our exploration
Our research will focus on comparing the health of newborns in our 5 study cities. We selected 5 US cities that are similar in size, but that range in the percentage of canopy cover. In these cities we will explore how newborn health varies across cities with varying levels of canopy cover and air pollutants, and how increased canopy cover might reduce vulnerability of urban-dwelling mothers and infants to long-term health disorders.

Cities in the Study

City Avg.  Temp (Centigrade) Average Percent in Poverty


Average Percent Canopy Average Percent Impervious Surface


Average (August) Annual Average
Portland, OR 27.3 12.5 17.8 27 44
Tacoma, WA 25.0 11.9 18 19 42
Boise, ID 32.1 11.3 15.6 11 24
Sacramento, CA 32.9 16.1 21.9 12 43
Albuquerque, NM 31.1 10.5 17.1 5 39

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