“Air Pollution and Human Health: Reflections on Research and Paths Forward.” -Dr. Michelle Bell (Baker Center)

In Dr. Michelle Bell’s lecture, she discusses the impact of forest fires on our health. If landscape architecture consists of everything outside the building, then quality of our climate contributes largely to the users of the landscape. As Dr. Bell argues, the damages done by forest fires on our health have been underestimated, and the research of its health impacts are rather scarce. Most shocking of her discoveries are the inevitable rise in wildfire occurrences. As landscape architects, we must consider that this eventual rise will produce more air pollution. Therefore, the question we must ask ourselves is: How can we, as designers, combat and mitigate climate change in our built environments? In order for designers to tackle this question, Dr. Bell’s break down of communities most affected by air pollution can help to answer some of these problems. As she states, the most at-risk subpopulations of air pollution mortality are the low income, urban demographics. This is caused by their more ubiquitous grayscape surroundings and lack of vegetative areas to absorb carbon dioxide emissions. Although highly scientific for an intended scientific audience, I believe that landscape architects can utilize this data to consider how urban design can acknowledge Dr. Bell’s data to inform how larger vegetation landscapes and carbon dioxide mitigators can be introduced in existing, low-income communities.

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