Pollution, Health, and the Moderating Role of Physical Activity Opportunities. Academic Article uri icon


  • Air and water pollution have detrimental effects on health, while physical activity opportunities have a positive relationship. The purpose of this study was to explore whether physical activity opportunities moderate the relationships among air and water pollution, and measures of health. Aggregate data were collected at the county level in the United States (n = 3104). Variables included the mean daily density of fine particle matter (air pollution), reported cases of health-related drinking water violations (water pollution), subjective ratings of poor or fair health (overall health), the number of physically and mentally unhealthy (physical and mental health, respectively), and the percentage of people living in close proximity to a park or recreation facility (access to physical activity). Air and water pollution have a significant positive effect on all measures of residents' poor health, while physical activity opportunities only have a negative effect on overall health and physical health. Access to physical activity only moderates the relationship between air pollution and all health outcomes. Since physical activity behavior can be more rapidly changed than some causes of pollution, providing the resident population with better access to physical activity can represent an effective tool in environmental health policy.

published proceedings

  • Int J Environ Res Public Health

altmetric score

  • 3.2

author list (cited authors)

  • Cunningham, G. B., Wicker, P., & McCullough, B. P.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Cunningham, George B||Wicker, Pamela||McCullough, Brian P

publication date

  • August 2020