Air Pollution: How Trees clean the air

Air pollution is defined as the release of pollutants into the atmosphere—pollutants that are harmful to human health and the environment as a whole. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution causes about seven million deaths worldwide each year. Currently, nine out of ten people breathe air that exceeds the WHO guidelines for pollutants, and people living in low- and middle-income countries suffer the most.

• What are the causes of air pollution?


Air pollution is produced by a variety of human activities as well as natural causes.
The gas comes from the burning of fossil fuels. One example of a hazardous gas is nitrogen dioxide. Vehicle exhaust and home gas combustion are the two biggest sources of nitrogen dioxide in the world.
Vehicle exhaust, evaporation from gas stations, paint and chemical industries, solid fuel burning and personal care items are all sources of chemicals. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are a frequent form of toxic chemical. They are occasionally naturally produced by plants and trees, but they can also be found in everyday chemical goods. These compounds have a lengthy shelf life and can travel across countries.

Car exhaust, brakes produce small particles, tires, and wildfires, farming activities, and residential wood burning. These particles are too little to see – less than the width of a human hair – yet they may get deep into our lungs if we inhale them.

• How is air pollution affected by climate change?


Climate change has an impact on the weather, which can result in varying amounts of air pollution.
Extreme weather is becoming increasingly common as a result of climate change. Strong winds and heavy rain episodes occur more frequently, which may help to improve air quality by dispersing pollutants more efficiently.
With climate change, prolonged warm weather and rising global average temperature may increase air pollution from sunlight-induced chemical reactions and emissions from wildfires.

• How is climate change affected by air pollution?


Aerosols can be formed by air contaminants such as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. Aerosols are tiny solid or liquid droplets in the air that deflect the sun’s rays and aid in the formation of clouds, which cool down the environment.

• How can trees help clean the air?


Trees are superheroes when it comes to combating air pollution and mitigating the effects of global warming. They absorb carbon dioxide and air pollutants, provide shade, and add oxygen to the air we breathe. Every year, the world’s forests absorb a third of global emissions. Particles, odors, and polluting gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, and sulfur dioxide) are deposited on the leaves of trees. Trees absorb toxic substances through their stomata, or pores, which efficiently filter the air. Trees also can help minimize ground-level ozone and reduce the greenhouse gas effect by retaining heat. With the current rate of deforestation, the quality of air will deteriorate drastically.

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