Trees: Unexpected Source Of Air Pollution Woes!

A new study throws a curveball at our understanding of urban green spaces. Researchers suggest trees in Los Angeles might be contributing to the city’s infamous smog.

This contradicts the long-held belief that trees are environmental heroes. But how?

The culprit seems to be terpenoids, an organic compound plants emit. Normally beneficial, terpenoids morph into volatile organic compounds (VOCs) upon reaching the atmosphere. Here’s the twist: VOCs react with existing pollutants, worsening ozone and particulate matter – key ingredients of smog.

The study blames rising temperatures and drought for amplifying this effect. Los Angeles, with its scorching summers and water woes, fits the bill perfectly.

Researchers used planes equipped with mass spectrometers to measure VOC concentrations over L.A. They discovered terpenoids were the biggest VOC source, especially in leafy areas and during heat waves. Surprisingly, on scorching days, terpenoids even surpassed human-caused VOCs as the top polluter, even in downtown’s concrete jungle.

The exact tree species causing the most trouble remain unknown. However, the study revealed a concerning trend: human-linked VOC emissions also rose with temperature. Everyday items like gasoline and even deodorants became more significant contributors in densely populated areas.

The study’s authors urge caution against misinterpreting their findings. Trees are crucial for combating climate change. But this research highlights the complex interplay between urban environments and air quality.

Reference- New Scientist, Journal Science, Inside Climate News, Futurism