Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Katrina Mullan

Committee Co-chair

Douglas Dalenberg

Commitee Members

Erin Semmens, Thales A. P. West


protected areas, respiratory diseases, planetary health, environmental health


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Econometrics | Environmental Public Health | Health Economics | Respiratory Tract Diseases


I assessed the impacts of upwind protected area coverage on local respiratory health within the Brazilian Amazon. A hypothesized mechanism is the legal prohibition of human ignited fires within protected areas, reducing particulate matter pollution, impacting respiratory health downwind. The connection between fires and respiratory diseases in the Amazon is well established (Smith et al. 2014; Rangel and Vogl 2019; Rocha and Sant’anna 2020). What is not well understood is the potential that government policies aimed at preventing ecosystem loss may also promote health and wellbeing, combining the UN sustainable development goals 3 and 15. Protected areas currently dominate government conservation efforts across the globe, but empirical evidence of the health impacts of protected areas remains a small body of literature. I combined Brazilian government data for monthly municipal respiratory disease hospitalizations and monthly upwind protected area coverage. I utilized a fixed-effects model with socioeconomic and environmental controls to isolate changes in upwind PA coverage on changes in respiratory disease hospitalizations. This research highlighted the cross-boundary effects of protected areas on health and the potential for government policy synergies between environmental conservation and public health. To my knowledge, this was the first examination of upwind protected areas' impacts on downwind health outcomes.



© Copyright 2021 Derek Michael Sheehan