Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Environmental Analysis
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Researchers Pinpoint How Trees Play Role in Smog Production

Published: Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Bookmark and Share
After years of scientific uncertainty and speculation, researchers show exactly how trees help create one of society’s predominant environmental and health concerns: air pollution.

It has long been known that trees produce and emit isoprene, an abundant molecule in the air known to protect leaves from oxygen damage and temperature fluctuations. However, in 2004, researchers, contrary to popular assumptions, revealed that isoprene was likely involved in the production of particulate matter, tiny particles that can get lodged in lungs, lead to lung cancer and asthma, and damage other tissues, not to mention the environment.

But exactly how was anybody’s guess.

Jason Surratt, assistant professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, now reveals one mechanism by which isoprene contributes to the production of these tiny, potentially health-damaging particles.

The study found that isoprene, once it is chemically altered via exposure to the sun, reacts with man-made nitrogen oxides to create particulate matter. Nitrogen oxides are pollutants created by cars, trucks, aircrafts, coal plants and other large scale sources.

“The work presents a dramatic new wrinkle in the arguments for reducing man-made pollutants worldwide,” said Surratt, whose work was published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Isoprene evolved to protect trees and plants, but because of the presence of nitrogen oxides, it is involved in producing this negative effect on health and the environment.”

“We certainly can’t cut down all the trees,” Surratt adds, “but we can work on reducing these man-made emissions to cut down the production of fine particulate matter.”

With the precise mechanism now revealed, researchers can plug it into air quality models for better predicting episodes of air pollution and potential effects on earth’s climate. The advance would allow researchers and environmental agencies to evaluate and make regulatory decisions that impact public health and climate change.

“We observe nature’s quirks, but we must always consider that our actions do have repercussions,” said Surratt.  “It’s the interaction between these natural and man-made emissions that produces this air pollution, smog and fine particulate matter – and now we know one reason for how it happens.”


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.


Scientific News
Atmosphere Acidity Minimised to Preindustrial Levels
Sheet ice study shows acidic pollution of the atmosphere has now almost returned to preindustrial levels.
Detecting Hazardous Substances in Water
Scientists develop device for the rapid analysis for hazardous substance content in liquids.
Environmental Impact of GM Crops
Following the adoption of GM crops, insecticide usage decreases but herbicide use increases, study shows.
Water Dynamics Affect Coral Reefs
Understanding what aids or degrades these ecosystems can help focus conservation efforts on reefs that are most likely to survive global warming.
Impact of Emerging Contaminants in Our Water Supply
Emerging contaminants, any synthetic or naturally occurring chemical not commonly monitored in the environment, in our water supply are becoming of increasing concern due to their potential ecological and/or human health effects.
Study Finds Mercury Contamination Across Western N. America
BRI research results found widespread mercury contamination at various levels across Western North America.
Device Improves Measurement of Water Pollution
Researchers have developed a device that makes it easier to measure contaminant levels in water.
Changing Ocean Chemistry Due To Human Activity
More anthropogenic carbon in the northeast Pacific means weaker shells for many marine species.
Sensor Could Help Fight Bacterial Infections
The sensor can detect E.coli bacteria in 15-20 minutes over a wide temperature range, offering a fast and cost effective tests.
Extreme Temperatures Could Increase Preterm Birth Risk
Researchers at NIH have found more preterm births among women exposed to extremes of hot and cold.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,000+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!