Trees are Air Pollution Sentinels
Photo: Augapfel, CCTaking Precise Measurements of the Microscopic Particles of Pollution in the AirWhat if we could have air pollution monitors on every street of every city without having to install any costly new high-tech equipment? This is exactly what Barbara Maher her team at the University of Lancaster in the UK have discovered by studying the leaves of urban trees (only 30 lime trees were used for the pilot study, but there's not reason why this couldn't work with more). Read on for more details.Photo: Joel Mann, CC
Air pollution is no joke. Check out what Discovery News wrote on it and tell me it doesn't make you want to breathe pure air:
Particulate air pollution is an insidious, deadly cocktail of chemicals leftover when power plants or car engines burn fossil fuels. Noxious compounds like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hyrdrocarbons (PAHs), and toxic heavy metals combine to form fine dust that inflames the lungs and invades the bloodstream, liver, even the brain when inhaled.
The UoL team plans to actually take measurements from more trees and create a "map of particulate pollution for the whole of Lancaster." Why is that important? Because particulate pollution can vary quite a bit over short distances. You can't just do a PM-report for a whole region like you can with the weather. From one intersection to the next there can be as much as a 10-fold difference, so measurements need to be very precise and local.
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