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Plants clean our air to greater extent

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 24 October 2010

Vegetation plays an unexpectedly large role in cleansing the atmosphere, a new study finds.

Poplar trees under stress, due to ozone pollution, sharply increase their uptake of oVOCs.

The research, led by scientists at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., uses observations, gene expression studies, and computer modelling to show that deciduous plants absorb about a third more of a common class of air-polluting chemicals than previously thought.

The new study, results of which are being published this week in Science Express, was conducted with co-authors from the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Arizona. It was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF), NCAR’s sponsor.

“Plants clean our air to a greater extent than we had realized,” says NCAR scientist Thomas Karl, the lead author. “They actively consume certain types of air pollution.”

The research team focused on a class of chemicals known as oxygenated volatile organic compounds (oVOCs), which can have long-term impacts on the environment and human health.

“The team has made significant progress in understanding the complex interactions between plants and the atmosphere,” says Anne-Marie Schmoltner of NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funded the research. Continue reading Plants clean our air to greater extent