Environ Int. 2023 Oct;180:108230. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2023.108230. Epub 2023 Sep 25.
Green vegetation may protect against heat-related death by improving thermal comfort. Few studies have investigated associations of green vegetation with heat-related mortality in Latin America or whether associations are modified by the spatial configuration of green vegetation. We used data from 323 Latin American cities and meta-regression models to estimate associations between city-level greenness, quantified using population-weighted normalized difference vegetation index values and modeled as three-level categorical terms, and excess deaths from heat (heat excess death fractions [heat EDFs]). Models were adjusted for city-level fine particulate matter concentration (PM2.5), social environment, and country group. In addition to estimating overall associations, we derived estimates of association stratified by green space clustering by including an interaction term between a green space clustering measure (dichotomized at the median of the distribution) and the three-level greenness variable. We stratified analyses by climate zone (arid vs. temperate and tropical combined). Among the 79 arid climate zone cities, those with moderate and high greenness levels had modestly lower heat EDFs compared to cities with the lowest greenness, although protective associations were more substantial in cities with moderate versus high greenness levels and confidence intervals (CI) crossed the null (Beta: -0.41, 95% CI: -1.06, 0.25; Beta -0.23, 95% CI: -0.95, 0.49, respectively). In 244 non-arid climate zone cities, associations were approximately null. We did not observe evidence of effect modification by green space clustering. Our results suggest that greenness may offer modest protection against heat-related mortality in arid climate zone Latin American cities.