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Trees are important for cleaner air in cities

Univ. of Gothenburg, Sweden, 2021-Dec 15

The Faculty of Science

In the project’s first study, the researchers measured pollutants in the air and compared them with pollutants on the leaves of deciduous (broadleaf) trees.

The trees’ leaves absorb the pollutants. The results are clear: the pollutants in the leaves increased over time and the researchers could show a clear correlation between the level of air pollutants and the concentration of pollutants in the leaves. "These types of extensive measurements of pollutants in both vegetation and the air are unusual, and the study confirms that trees play a role in improving air quality in cities,” says Håkan Pleijel, professor of environmental sciences at the University of Gothenburg University.

Conifers are important for cleansing the air in the winter. The researchers also measured pollutants in the needles of black pine (Pinus nigra) conifers in urban settings and in the Botanical Garden’s arboretum.

Air pollution levels were vastly variable in different places in Gothenburg. The figure shows a total of 32 PAHs in the air at seven urban sites in Gothenburg and in the Botanical Garden’s arboretum.

The research project “Clean the air with plants – can PAH exposure be reduced with urban vegetation?” is led by Professor Håkan Pleijel at the University of Gothenburg and is a collaboration among the University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg Botanical Garden, and Lund University. The researchers measured pollutants in two tree species in Gothenburg and compared these with pollutants in the air.

Tags: Environmental impacts of trees, Statistics

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