Who knew, some trees are better at eating smog

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by ICT Bill, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    From today's Denver Post:

    Trees may be pulling their weight.
    New research by government-backed scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research finds that deciduous vegetation absorbs one-third more air pollution than previously believed — tens of millions of metric tons worldwide.
    The NCAR scientists, measuring air chemistry from Amazonia to Arizona, focused on some of the most pernicious pollutants — the so-called volatile organic compounds that people emit from vehicles, lawnmowers and coal power plants. These are abundant pollutants that, when mixed with sunlight and nitrogen oxide, form the ozone in smog hanging over cities such as Denver.
    "Plant more trees, as long as they are the right trees," said NCAR physicist Thomas Karl, whose Boulder-based team's peer-reviewed report was published this week in the academic journal Science Express. "This will help reduce the levels of air toxics."
    The right trees include ash, apple, birch, hawthorn, hackberry, maple, pear and peach.
    Wrong: poplar, eucalyptus and oak, NCAR scientists say. These species, NCAR scientists say, emit more volatile organic compounds than they absorb.
    Scientists long have believed that plants absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The new research showing they consume huge quantities of organic compounds raises new possibilities for Denver — where city officials in 2006 embarked on a mission to plant 1 million trees by 2025 — and other cities facing tighter federal air-quality standards.
    Federal environmental regulators have deemed Denver out of compliance for ozone. This week, Regional Air Quality Council members were brainstorming strategies for reducing volatile organic compound pollution, including land-use controls and fuel pricing and use of roadways and parking.
    "Of course, we would love it if there was something that could suck up all the air pollution," air-quality council spokeswoman Sarah Anderson said.
    A 10-member team at NCAR's Boulder lab relied on computer modeling, field observations from towers above forests and genetic studies to investigate the absorption of pollution through stomata pores in tree leaves. They used mass spectrometers to isolate and measure methyl vinyl ketone, a dominant organic pollutant.
    Plants probably are absorbing other pollutants too, said Alex Guenther, section chief of NCAR's biosphere-atmosphere interactions group. While pine trees absorb pollution, researcher's aren't sure how much because the study focused on deciduous vegetation, including shrubs.
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials are compelling cities to come up with and adhere to plans for reducing air pollution. Cities that fail to comply face possible loss of federal transportation funding.
    The NCAR team this week observed keen interest among climate-change scientists in their findings, because plant absorption of pollutants "has been somewhat ignored," Guenther said.
    "It will be interesting to see what impact this has in an area like Denver," he said. "But tree-planting alone is certainly not going to solve Denver's smog problem."
     
  2. HayBay

    HayBay LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 846

    Thats great news.
     
  3. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,606

    Not great news if you are an oak tree. They environmentalists may be coming after you.
     
  4. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    Bacterial leaf scorch is running through the oaks in the mid atlantic like wild fire, there may be none left in the next 15 or 20 years
     
  5. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,606

    American elms gone, ash trees being wiped out very quickly where there are emerald ash borers , oak trees in danger. Tough times for trees.

    As a note: emerald ash borer is decimating the ash trees in my city. As much as I hate using imidacloprid, I have been treating my own ash trees for three years. I have saved them so far. Sorry, off topic.
     
  6. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    My buddy Peter Wilde over at arborjet has a very effective mix for EAB as well, he says it can take 12 to 18 months to treat the soil, only a couple of weeks with injectables and you use less product

    Sorry about your trees, I have a beautiful ash in my front yard
     
  7. jonthepain

    jonthepain LawnSite Senior Member
    from Raleigh
    Posts: 522

    All my ash trees died a few years ago. A couple of them were el grande :(
     
  8. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,890

    Why are they recommending a tree that is going to die? (the ash)

    Face it, there is no way to stop it from spreading throughout the country, I have seen evidence of it from Nebraska to New Hampshire and Virginia to Michigan. Yes, they can be treated, but there is no way of stopping it.
     
  9. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    things run in cycles, yin and yang if you will. It works in a time zone that is not related to humans

    people say "I want it the way it was" the question is "when" 10, 100, 1000, 10,000 years ago

    there is a farm in VA with over 25,000 chestnut trees and another in MA with almost the same, they are growing past the young'n phase, it looks very promising
     

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