Smog in downtown Atlanta (Credit: NASA, Institute for Southern Studies)
A study led by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has shown how trees contribute to air pollution through the release of isoprene, according to a release from the school.
Trees emit isoprene to help protect leaves from oxygen damage and temperature shifts. However, the study found that once it’s exposed to sunlight, isoprene interacts with man-made nitrogen oxides to produce particulate matter.
Particulate matter is an airborne pollutant that poses serious health risks because of its ability to get lodged in lungs, leading to lung cancer, asthma and tissue damage.
The study highlights the need to better regulate nitrogen oxide discharge stemming from vehicle and industrial emissions.
Image: Smog in downtown Atlanta (Credit: NASA, Institute for Southern Studies)