When thinking about sources of pollutants, the last thing that comes to mind is treesHowever, according to a study recently published in The sciencePlants, especially large ones, make a significant contribution to the level environmental pollution in los angeles.

The American city has worked hard in recent years to reduce emissions from transportation and industry. However, as changing of the climate Thanks to new advances, scientists have realized that secondary sources of pollution have reached previously unseen levels.

These include plant substances, since the release of plants volatile organic compounds (VOCs)both for communication between them and pollinators, and for repelling herbivores and protecting against environmental stress. In addition, they play an important role in interactions with microorganisms. In general, these substances do not harm the environment. However, when they are exposed to very high temperatures, they can transform into other compounds that are very polluting. This is the case, for example, with tropospheric ozone, also known as ground level ozone. None of this means that we should abandon green spaces in cities. The benefits far outweigh the harm. However, as climate change is already taking hold, there may be some measures to consider.

VOCs and Pollution

This is known as volatile organic compounds a group of chemicals consisting mainly of carbon and hydrogen that are released into the environment as gases at room temperature. There are some that are very dangerous, such as benzene, some that are very harmful, such as aniline, or some that are not at all worrying, such as acetone. There are also some, such as terpenes produced by plantswhich initially do not pose any danger.

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Trees do more good than harm. Credit: Kazuend (Unsplash)

However, VOCs can be converted into tropospheric ozone by reaction with nitrogen oxides and sunlightThese oxides are primarily the result of human-induced pollution. Although their levels have decreased, the reaction occurs to a greater extent as temperatures rise. Drought also contributes to this, as plants respond by releasing more terpenes into the environment.

Why are VOCs dangerous?

Some VOCs are dangerous in themselves because they can damage stratospheric ozone, thereby increasing the amount of ultraviolet radiation from the sun that reaches us. In addition, some, such as benzene, are dangerous. extremely carcinogenic.

On the other hand, both tropospheric ozone and some VOCs themselves can directly affect human health. very irritating gasesthe increase of which in the atmosphere is apparently associated with an increase in the incidence of disease premature birth, as well as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

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VOCs can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Photo: Jacek Dilag (Unsplash)

For this reason, the authors of a newly published study, after measuring increased levels of plant-derived terpenes, recommend monitoring trees and other plants in urban green spaces so that they are not exposed to stress that could lead to the release of more VOCs. It is also recommended to study What plants are planted in each area?because not all of them produce the same amount of these substances.

Depending on the level of pollution and the climate conditions of each area, one or the other option can be chosen. In short, plants are an amazing source of pollution, but we definitely should not get rid of them. It is only important that we know how to take care of them and enjoy their benefits, reducing their risks.

Source: Hiper Textual

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