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UCF students worked alongside city and local planning professionals in a health impact assessment of the Parramore Heritage community. Together, the group wanted to determine the impact of traffic-related asthma rates and recommended ways to make the environment healthier – by planting more trees and ensuring that no one lives within 75 meters of the major roads surrounding the area.

Parramore is a diverse area of residential neighborhoods, businesses and industry west of the Downtown Orlando core and the historic home of Orlando’s African-American community.

The health impact assessment (HIA) was conducted with graduate students in UCF’s Planning Healthy Communities course in the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning program in partnership with the Health Council of East Central Florida. It was supported by a $10,000 grant from the Winter Park Health Foundation.

An HIA uses a combination of research and analysis procedures and methods that help decision-makers understand the health implications of a proposed development, policy or procedural change.

According to the Parramore HIA, studies have concluded that residing in homes near high traffic volume will greatly increase the chance of asthma in children.

“The City of Orlando and partners should continue to plant trees in the Parramore neighborhood, especially in areas where citizens would benefit from a buffer between their homes and the frequent emissions and noise from the traffic that entrap their community,” said Sarah Stack, principal author of the Parramore HIA.

The study also notes that trees provide a good filter for many toxins in the air, and says that along major roadways, such as Interstate 4, trees are often planted to reduce the negative impacts of vehicle emissions and noise.

The final study was released last fall.