A new study finds that planting trees to reduce air pollution is cheaper than investing in most emissions reducing technologies.
Researchers analyzed thousands of counties across the United States and calculated how much it would cost to add more trees and plants near factories and other pollution sources. They compared these costs to technologies – things like smokestack scrubbers.
The study shows that plants – not technologies – are cheaper at cleaning the air near a number of industrial sites, roadways, power plants, commercial boilers and oil and gas drilling sites. The American Lung Association estimates that 4 in 10 people in the U.S. live in areas with poor air quality, leading to health issues including asthma, lung cancer and heart disease. Adding plants and trees to the landscape could reduce air pollution by an average of 27 percent, the study shows.
The researchers point out that this study could be a lesson to engineers and city planners who want to make society more livable. And many of the solutions for our environmental and health problems... might be found in nature.
The study was published last week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.