Redwoods Suck Up Pollution

Bowman, Chris. 2007. “Redwood Tops At Sucking Up Exhaust.” Sacramento Bee (8 May).

“The California redwood, known for capturing much of its water supply from coastal fog, also appears to excel at scrubbing vehicle soot from the air, according to a University of California, Davis, scientist. Preliminary results from a wind tunnel experiment show the flat needles of the coast redwood removing 75 percent to 95 percent of the most harmful tailpipe exhaust particles, Thomas Cahill said Monday in a presentation to the Sacramento area chapter of the nonprofit Breathe California. “It’s an extremely efficient way to reduce air pollution,” said Cahill, a retired atmospheric physicist who has conducted several pioneering studies of particle pollution around the world.”

“While other studies have shown trees to be effective at suppressing dust along unpaved roads, the latest UCD study is perhaps the first to examine the effectiveness of trees in reducing the “very fine” and “ultra fine” particles of burnt motor fuel and oil, said Greg McPherson, director of the federal Center for Urban Forest Research at UCD.”

“Such particles are small enough to bypass the body’s defenses and lodge deep in the lungs, and have been linked in many studies to deaths of people with heart and breathing problems. The UCD study found redwood trees to be most effective of three species at removing particle pollutants, followed by the longer needled deodar cedar and the broad-leaf live oak.”

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