Shoreline Exposure and Human Health in the Gulf of Mexico
Manley, Ruth Lynn
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Blue spaces are an emerging trend in place-based research, boasting salutatory human health effects of exposure to water features, specifically on mental and physical health. However, blue exposure can also be linked to negative health impacts through exposure to flooding, hurricanes, harmful algal blooms, and more. To date, significant research conducted examining both the positive and negative effects of coastal exposure is lacking. The Gulf of Mexico has experienced numerous negative exposures to blue space such as hurricanes, harmful algal blooms, oil spills, and flooding within the last ten years, making it a particularly vulnerable area. This project is divided into two parts. Part one addresses the human health research conducted in the wake of the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, representing negative impacts of coastal exposure. Part two consists of a statistical analysis of blue and greenspace exposure. Using the 2017 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System study and geographic data derived from multiple datasets, several models were created to answer the question of whether there are positive or negative human health implications of living on the coast. Information from a total sample size of 13,312 respondents was analyzed to assess whether subjective general health was significantly influenced by proximity to the coast and exposure to geographic variables. Higher percentages of open water, developed areas, wetlands, and greenspaces were all significantly associated with poor subjective general health while shoreline miles per square mile and miles of marine protected areas and parks were associated with increased general health.