New research shows that trees planted along a city street screen residents from tiny particles that pollute urban air. Tree leaves can capture more than 50 percent of the particulate matter, which is a prime component of urban pollution and a trigger for disease.

Researchers want to understand how trees capture particles so that urban planners might eventually take advantage of these natural tools for mitigating pollution. Researchers at Lancaster University, in the U.K., wanted to get some numbers from a real-life situation that they could feed into the models, so they studied a row of eight houses without a tree screen on a busy street in Lancaster. From ACTrees — the Alliance for Community Trees.

street trees
photo: Guy Kramer