A scientific study released this month has shown that London’s trees can filter out the air’s pollution.
Scientists from the University of Southampton showed that since trees are constantly removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they are also good at removing other pollutants.
These pollutants are known to cause 2,000 asthma attacks each year, with previous studies showing that fumes from cars could kill up to 2,000 people each year.
…this reduction in exposure could have real benefits…
Over one year, an acre of trees could absorb enough CO2 to match 26,000 miles worth of car exhaust fumes.
Peter Freer-Smith, the chief scientist for Forest Research said: “We know that particulates can damage human health and this reduction in exposure could have real benefits in some places, such as around the edge of school playgrounds.”
According to Freer-Smith, other cities around the world could do well to expand their green spaces to help battle against pollution in the future.
…best at cleaning the air…
He said: “Urban green space and trees give a wide range of benefits and this study confirms that improving the quality of the air we breathe is one of them.
“We should try to get the most out of this benefit in future.”
The study suggests that evergreen trees like pines, which have leaves all year round, would be best at cleaning the air.
…the trees become damaged…
Because pollution is taken in through the leaves, the long term exposure would mean they absorb more pollutants than any other tree type.
Estimates from the study suggest that trees from the Greater London Authority have removed somewhere between 850 and 2,000 tonnes of particulate pollution (PM10) from the air every year.
However, the pollution reduction isn’t all a walk in the park. By taking in pollution, the trees become damaged, slowing them from creating their food by photosynthesis.
We may forget about them, now that it’s winter, but London’s locals should count themselves lucky for this polluted city’s eight large parks.