As well as causing significant harm to human health, air pollution also stunts the growth of trees, one of the very elements that can attenuate this typically urban environmental problem.
Researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil have shown that atmospheric pollutants restrict tree growth and the ecosystem services provided by trees, such as filtering pollution by absorbing airborne metals in their bark, assimilating CO2, reducing the heat island effect by attenuating solar radiation, mitigating stormwater runoff, and controlling humidity.
The study wassupported by FAPESP. The results have beenpublishedin the journalScience of the Total Environment.
“We found that in years when levels of particulate matter in the atmosphere were higher, for example, the trees grew less. As a result, they started later in their lives to provide ecosystem services that play an important role in reducing urban pollution and mitigating or adapting the city to climate change,” saidGiuliano Maselli Locosselli, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of São Paulo’s Bioscience Institute (IB-USP) with ascholarship from FAPESP and first author of the study.
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