July 18, 2012
Trees And Bushes Cut City Pollution

More greenery would be good for our lungs.

Trees, bushes and other greenery growing in the concrete-and-glass canyons of cities can reduce levels of two of the most worrisome air pollutants by eight times more than previously believed, a new study has found. A report on the research appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Thomas Pugh and colleagues explain that concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and microscopic particulate matter (PM) both of which can be harmful to human health exceed safe levels on the streets of many cities. Past research suggested that trees and other green plants can improve urban air quality by removing those pollutants from the air. However, the improvement seemed to be small, a reduction of less than 5 percent. The new study sought a better understanding of the effects of green plants in the sometimes stagnant air of city streets, which the authors term "urban street canyons."

Climbing ivy cuts nitrogen dioxide and particulate pollution.

The study concluded that judicious placement of grass, climbing ivy and other plants in urban canyons can reduce the concentration at street level of NO2 by as much as 40 percent and PM by 60 percent, much more than previously believed. The authors even suggest building plant-covered "green billboards" in these urban canyons to increase the amount of foliage. Trees were also shown to be effective, but only if care is taken to avoid trapping pollutants beneath their crowns.

Plants are good for our health. Cities should plant more of them.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 July 18 11:10 PM  Pollution Air


Comments
PacRim Jim said at July 19, 2012 10:54 AM:

Plants are good for our health? You might qualify that a bit.

James Ferguson (@kWIQly) said at July 21, 2012 11:31 AM:

Doubtless true, but not just for our hearts and lungs, Green spaces have been shown in urbanized areas to lift depression (think of children playing in park fountains) provide exercise, increase circulation, reduce blood pressure and are as such - a pretty good thing. Rural living is preferable, but urban gardens are also a great initiative.

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