uc Berkeley study links trees to smog

uc Berkeley study links trees to smog

Tree Smog

A new study from UC Berkeley has found that trees and plants in Los Angeles could be contributing to the city’s air pollution problem. While car emissions have been declining in California, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by stressed plants in warm temperatures are now being blamed for worsening smog and air quality issues. VOCs are chemicals emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids.

The study reveals that plants release these compounds when they are under environmental stress, such as heat. These VOCs can then interact with other pollutants in the air, potentially exacerbating air pollution. This discovery sheds light on the complex nature of air pollution sources, highlighting that natural factors, not just human activity, play a significant role in air quality.

Researchers are now investigating ways to manage or minimize these plant emissions to improve overall air conditions in the city.

Trees’ impact on urban smog

The findings underscore the need for comprehensive strategies that take into account both anthropogenic and natural emission sources when tackling air pollution.

This new understanding could pave the way for more effective pollution control measures and policies designed to safeguard the environment and public health. As Ronald Cohen, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at UC Berkeley and co-author of the study, stated, “We have known for some time that plants emit volatile organic compounds. What we didn’t know was how significant these emissions could be in a city like Los Angeles, where there are millions of trees and plants.”

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, used data from air quality monitoring stations across Los Angeles to estimate the contribution of plant-derived VOCs to the city’s air pollution levels.

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The researchers found that during hot summer months, these biogenic emissions could account for up to 25% of the total VOCs in the air. This research provides a new perspective on the sources of pollution in urban areas and highlights the importance of considering the role of vegetation in air quality management. As cities continue to grapple with air pollution, this study offers valuable insights that could help shape more effective strategies for improving air quality and protecting public health.


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