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居住地与健康:住在农村是否真的更幸福

更新时间:2018-6-19 20:44:27 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Is it really healthier to live in the countryside?
居住地与健康:住在农村是否真的更幸福

Whether you’re worried about pollution or stress, you may wonder if leaving your town or city for the countryside may boost not only your happiness, but your health.

不管你是担心污染还是压力,你可能想知道,离开你的城镇或城市去农村,是否不仅能增进你的幸福感,还能促进你的健康。

But evidence-based research that can help us identify the healthiest environments to live is surprisingly scant. As scientists begin to tease apart the links between well-being and the environment, they are finding that many nuances contribute to and detract from the benefits offered by a certain environment – whether it be a metropolis of millions or a deserted beach.

但是,能帮助我们找到最健康的生存环境的实证研究少得令人吃惊。当科学家们开始梳理健康与环境之间的联系时,他们发现,许多细微的差别既可以让某一特定环境带来的益处有所增加,也可以使其有所减损。无论是拥有数百万人口的大都市,还是荒芜的海滩,都是如此。

“What we’re trying to do as a group of researchers around the world is not to promote these things willy-nilly, but to find pro and con evidence on how natural environments – and our increasing detachment from them – might be affecting health and well-being,” says Mathew White, an environmental psychologist at the University of Exeter Medical School.

埃克塞特大学医学院(University of Exeter Medical School)的环境心理学家怀特(Mathew White)说, “我们这群来自世界各地的研究人员不是在毫无章法地倡导什么,而是就自然环境如何影响健康和幸福这个问题,在寻找正反面的证据;人类对环境的态度日益冷漠。”

White and other researchers are revealing that a seemingly countless number of factors determine how our surroundings influence us. These can include a person’s background and life circumstances, the quality and duration of exposure and the activities performed in it.

怀特和其他研究人员发现,似乎有无数的因素决定着我们周围的环境如何对我们产生影响。这包括一个人的背景和生活环境,在该环境中生活质量、持续时间以及在其中进行何种活动等等。

Generally speaking, evidence suggests that green spaces are good for those of us who live in urban areas. Those who reside near parks or trees tend to enjoy lower levels of ambient air pollution, reduced manmade noise pollution and more cooling effects (something that will become increasingly useful as the planet warms).

一般来说,证据表明绿色空间(green space)对我们这些生活在城市的人是有好处的。居住在公园或树林附近的人往往受益于较少的空气污染、更低的人为噪音和更好的凉爽效应 (随着地球变暖,它会越来越有用)。

Natural spaces are conducive to physical and social activities – both of which are associated with myriad benefits of their own.

自然空间有益于体育和社会活动,这两项活动又会带来相当多的益处。

Time in nature has been linked to reduced physical markers of stress. When we are out for a stroll or just sitting beneath the trees, our heart rate and blood pressure both tend to go down. We also release more natural ‘killer cells’: lymphocytes that roam throughout the body, hunting down cancerous and virus-infected cells.

长时间身处大自然中,能够减轻压力造成的身体不适。当我们外出散步或只是坐在树下时,我们的心率和血压都会下降。我们还释放出更多的天然“杀手细胞”(killer cells):即在身体各处游走的淋巴细胞,可以随时捕捉癌细胞和受病毒感染的细胞。

Researchers are still trying to determine why this is so, although they do have a number of hypotheses. “One predominate theory is that natural spaces act as a calming backdrop to the busy stimuli of the city,” says Amber Pearson, a health geographer at Michigan State University. “From an evolutionary perspective, we also associate natural things as key resources for survival, so we favour them.”

研究人员已有一些假设,但他们仍在试图确定这是为什么。“一个占主导地位的理论是,自然空间可让城市的繁忙刺激平静下来”。 密歇根州立大学(Michigan State University)的健康地理学家皮尔森(Amber Pearson)说。“从进化论的观点来看,我们也认为自然界是我们赖以生存的重要资源,所以我们喜欢它们”。

This does not necessarily mean that urban denizens should all move to the countryside, however.

然而,这并不一定意味着城市居民都应该搬到农村去。

City residents tend to suffer from higher levels of asthma, allergies and depression. But they also tend to be less obese, at a lower risk of suicide and are less likely to get killed in an accident. They lead happier lives as seniors and live longer in general.

城市居民往往患哮喘、过敏和抑郁的程度更高。但他们的肥胖程度、自杀风险和在事故死亡率都较低。他们在老年时生活更幸福,总体上寿命更长。

Although we tend to associate cities with pollution, crime and stress, living in rural locales may entail certain costs as well. Disease-carrying insects and arachnids can detract from the health factor of that otherwise idyllic cabin in Maine, for example.

尽管我们总是把城市与污染、犯罪和压力联系在一起,但生活在农村地区也可能需要付出一定的代价。例如,携带疾病的昆虫和蛛形纲动物会影响健康,让缅因州(Maine)那种田园诗般的小屋生活没那么浪漫。

In other cases, rural pollution poses a major threat. In India, air pollution contributed to the deaths of 1.1 million citizens in 2015 – with rural residents rather than urban ones accounting for 75% of the victims. This is primarily because countryside dwellers are at greater risk of breathing air that is polluted by burning of agricultural fields, wood or cow dung (used for cooking fuel and heat).

在其它案例中,农村污染构成重大威胁。在印度,2015年空气污染造成了110万印度人死亡——其中75%的受害者是农村居民,而不是城市居民。这主要是因为农村居民更容易吸入因焚烧农田、树木或牛粪(用于做饭燃料和取暖)而受到污染的空气。

Indonesia’s slash and burn-style land clearing likewise causes a blanket of toxic haze that lasts for months and sometimes affects neighbouring countries, including Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Meanwhile, smoke pollution from fires lit in South America and southern Africa has been known to make its way around the entire southern hemisphere. (That said, the air in the southern hemisphere is generally cleaner than in the northern hemisphere – simply because there are fewer people living there).

印度尼西亚刀耕火种式的土地清理同样会造成持续数月的有毒雾霾,有时会影响到邻国,包括新加坡、马来西亚和泰国。与此同时,南美和非洲南部火灾产生的烟尘污染已经在整个南半球蔓延开来。(即便如此,南半球的空气通常比北半球的空气要干净——仅仅是因为那里的人更少)。

It’s not just developing countries, either: wildfires in the western US are wreaking havoc on air quality, while pollution from fertilizers used on farms are detracting from air quality in Europe, Russia, China and the US.

也不仅仅是发展中国家:美国西部的森林大火正在对空气质量造成严重破坏,而农场化肥污染正在降低欧洲、俄罗斯、中国和美国空气质量。

What about the idea of that pure mountain air? It’s true that black carbon aerosols and particulate matter pollution tends to be lower at higher altitudes. But trying to move above air pollution may cause other issues.

呼吸纯净的山间空气如何?海拔越高,黑碳气溶胶(black carbon aerosols)和颗粒物污染的水平确实会降低。但是如果为了躲避空气污染搬到高处居住,就可能产生其它问题。

While people who live in in places 2,500m or higher seem to have lower mortality from cardiovascular disease, stroke and some types of cancers, data indicate that they also seem to be at an elevated risk of death from chronic pulmonary disease and from lower respiratory tract infections. This is likely at least in part because cars and other vehicles operate less efficiently at higher altitudes, emitting greater amounts of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide – which is made even more harmful by the increased solar radiation in such places. Living at a moderate altitude of 1,500 to 2,500 meters, therefore, may be the healthiest choice.

虽然生活在海拔2500米或更高地区的人死于心血管疾病、中风和某些癌症的几率似乎较低,但数据显示,他们死于慢性肺部疾病和下呼吸道感染的风险似乎也较高。至少一部分原因可能是汽车在高海拔地区的运行效率较低,因此会释放出更多的碳氢化合物和一氧化碳,而在这些地区,由于太阳辐射的增加,这些物质产生的危害更大。因此,生活在1500到2500米的中等海拔高度可能是最健康的选择。

On the other hand, there is a strong argument to be made for living near the sea – or at least near some body of water. Those in the UK who live closer to the ocean, for example, tend to have a better bill of health than those who live inland, taking into account their age and socioeconomic status. This is likely due to a variety of reasons, White says, including the fact that our evolution means we are attracted to the high levels of biodiversity found there (in the past, this would have been a helpful indicator of food sources) and that beaches offer opportunities for daily exercise and vitamin D.

另一方面,一种强有力的观点认为应该生活在海边——或者至少在一些水域附近。例如,在英国,考虑到他们的年龄和社会经济状况,住得离海洋近的人往往比住在内陆的人更健康。这可能有各种各样的原因,怀特说,从进化论的角度,这意味着我们会被海中发现的生物多样性所吸引 (在过去,这是表明有丰富的食物来源);海滩提供了日常锻炼的机会和维生素D(译注:在海滩多晒太阳可获取身体所需的维生素D)。

Then there are the psychological benefits. A 2016 study Pearson and her colleagues conducted in Wellington, New Zealand found that residents with ocean views had lower levels of psychological distress. For every 10% increase in how much blue space people could see, the researchers found a one-third point reduction in the population’s average Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (used to predict anxiety and mood disorders), independent of socioeconomic status. Given that finding, Pearson says, “One might expect that a 20 to 30% increase in blue space visibility could shift someone from moderate distress into a lower category.” Pearson found similar results in a follow-up study conducted near the Great Lakes in the US (currently in review), as did White in an upcoming study of Hong Kong residents.

住在海边还有心理上的好处。2016年,皮尔森和她的同事们在新西兰惠灵顿进行的研究发现,居住地能看到海景的居民心理困扰水平较低。研究人员发现,人们所能看到的蓝色空间(译注:blue space, 指海水、湖水等)每增加10%,人口平均的凯斯勒心理困扰量表(Kessler Psychological Distress Scale,用于预测焦虑和情绪障碍)就会降低三分之一个点,而且与其社会经济地位无关。皮尔森说,考虑到这一发现”,人们可能会期待,蓝色空间的可见度增加20到30个百分点,就会把一个人从中等程度的心理困扰转化到较低的水平“。皮尔森在美国五大湖(Great Lakes)附近进行的一项后续研究中也发现了类似的结果(目前正在进行评估),在之后进行的一项针对香港居民的研究中,怀特也发现了同样的结果。

Not everyone can live on the coast, however. So Simon Bell, chair of landscape architecture at the Estonian University of Life Sciences and associate director of the OPENspace Centre at the University of Edinburgh, and his colleagues are testing whether restoring neglected bodies of water throughout Europe can help. They are interviewing residents before and after restoration, including at a rundown beach outside of Tallinn, Estonia and an industrial canal near a Soviet bloc-style apartment complex in Tartu, also Estonia, among other places in Spain, Portugal, Sweden and the UK.

然而,并不是每个人都能住在海边。贝尔(Simon Bell)是爱沙尼亚生命科学大学(Estonian University of Life Science)的景观建筑学首席教授以及爱丁堡大学(University of Edinburgh)开放空间中心(OPENspace Centre)的副主任,他和他的同事正在调查在欧洲修复被遗弃的水体是否有帮助。他们在修复前后采访当地的居民。修复的水体包括爱沙尼亚首都塔林(Tallinn)外一个破旧的海滩、爱沙尼亚第二大城市塔尔图(Tartu)一幢苏式公寓大楼附近的工业运河,以及西班牙、葡萄牙、瑞典和英国的一些地方。

The team’s second analysis of nearly 200 recently redeveloped water sites will allow them to tease out how factors such as climate, weather, pollution levels, smells, seasonality, safety and security, accessibility and more, influence a given water body’s appeal. The ultimate goal, Bell says, is to find “what makes a great blue space.” Once the results are in, he and his colleagues will develop a quality assessment tool for those looking to most effectively restore urban canals, overgrown lakes, former docklands, rivers and other neglected blue spaces to make residents’ lives better.

该小组对近200个最近重新开发的水源地进行的第二次分析。他们梳理出气候、天气、污染水平、气味、季节性、安全、可触及度等因素如何影响一个特定水体的吸引力。贝尔说,最终的目标是找出”什么造就了一个伟大的蓝色空间“。一旦结果出来,他和他的同事将开发一种质量评估工具,提供给那些寻求最有效的方式修复蓝色空间的人,让城市运河、水草疯长的湖泊、旧码头区、河流和其它被忽视的水体焕发新生,以改善居民的生活。

Still, when it comes to wellbeing, researchers do not know how lakes compare to oceans or how rivers compare to seas. Nor have they compared how beaches in, say, Iceland measure up to those in Florida. What they do know is that complex factors including air and water quality, crowding, temperature and even high and low tides affect how something as seemingly simple as a visit to the beach can influence us.

尽管如此,在健康方面,研究人员并不知道湖泊与海洋的比较结果,也不知道河流与海洋的比较结果,也不会将冰岛的海滩与佛罗里达的相比。他们所知道的是,空气和水质、水边的人口密度、温度,甚至涨潮和退潮等复杂因素,会对我们产生怎样的影响,就是比如去海滩游玩这样简单的事情。

“There might be a million other important things besides weather and daylight that influence someone in Hawaii versus Finland,” White says.

“除了天气和日光之外,可能还有其他一百万个重要因素会影响某个人在夏威夷和芬兰的健康状况”, 怀特说。

In terms of health, data also suggest that, counterintuitively, people who live in more intermittently rather than regularly sunny places – Vermont and Minnesota in the US, for example, and Denmark and France – tend to have higher rates of skin cancer, likely because sunscreen is not part of daily routines.

在健康方面,数据还显示,与我们的常识相反,在偶尔有阳光的地方,比如美国佛蒙特州和明尼苏达州,以及丹麦和法国,那里的人皮肤癌的发病率往往更高,可能因为这些地方的人并没有把涂防晒霜作为日常生活的习惯。

Just as some green and blue spaces may be more beneficial than others, researchers are also coming to realize that the environment’s influence on well-being is not evenly distributed.

正如一些绿色和蓝色的空间可能比其它空间更有益,研究人员也逐渐认识到,环境对健康的影响不是均匀分布的。

People living in lower socioeconomic conditions tend to derive more benefits from natural spaces than wealthy residents, White says. That’s likely because richer people enjoy other health-improving privileges, such as taking holidays and leading generally less stressful lives – a finding with important real-world implications. “Here in the UK, local authorities have a legal obligation to reduce health inequalities. So one way to do that is to improve the park system,” White says. “The poorest will benefit the most.”

怀特说,社会经济状况的较低的人群往往比富裕者更能从自然环境中获益。这很可能是因为富人享有其它促进健康的特权,比如度假和总体生活压力较小。这一发现具有重要的现实意义。”在英国,地方当局有义务减少健康差异,一种方法就是改善公园系统“,怀特说,”最贫穷的人得益最多“。

It’s also important to point out that simply moving to a relatively pristine coast or forest will not solve all of our problems. Other life circumstances – losing or gaining a job, marrying or divorcing – have a much greater impact on our health. As White puts it, no matter what environment you’re in, “It’s more important to have a house than to be homeless in a park.”

同样重要的是,仅仅搬到相对清洁的海岸或森林并不能解决我们所有的问题。其它生活环境——失去或得到一份工作、结婚或离婚——对我们的健康有更大的影响。正如怀特所说,无论你身处什么环境,“拥有一所房子比在公园里无家可归更重要”。

Bell adds that proximity to nature actually tends to rank low on people’s lists of the most important factors for selecting a place to live, after things like safety, quietness and closeness to key locations like schools and work. But while the benefits of green and blue spaces should not be overplayed on an individual level, they are important for the scale at which they work.

贝尔补充说,在人们选择居住地的最重要因素中,亲近自然的因素往往排名靠后,比它更重要的因素有安全、安静,以及是否靠近学校和工作地。但是,虽然在个人层面绿色和蓝色空间的好处不应被夸大,但它们是起作用的,因此也是重要的。

And even so, one takeaway seems obvious: those living in a clean, oceanside city with ready access to nature – think Sydney or Wellington – may have struck the jackpot in terms of the healthiest places to live.

即便如此,一个结论应是明显的:那些生活在干净的海滨城市、可以随时亲近自然的人,比如悉尼或惠灵顿的居民,在健康居住地的竞赛中应该能拔得头筹。

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