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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Georgia State: Dr. Christine Fuller, Air Pollution Expert, Looks To Trees To Help Ease Highway Air Pollution

Plenty of Atlantans spend time on highways, speeding or inching or swerving along. But many people spend a lot of time near the highways, too: at their homes, schools or workplaces.

And that’s not great for their health.

In addition to greenhouse gases that cause climate change, car and truck emissions have been linked to heart and lung problems.

So a Georgia State University School of Public Health professor is studying how effectively trees can help filter out some of that pollution.

Air pollution expert Dr. Christina Fuller is focusing specifically on ultrafine particles, which are associated with asthma and heart disease.

“They’re too small to be able to see,” she said. “But they have an effect on health.”

Ultrafine particles can come from a variety of places, she said, but car tailpipes are a big contributor, and their levels are high close to roads.

At a parking lot on Georgia Tech’s campus, with a close-up view of the Downtown Connector, Dr. Fuller and a handful of students set up their experiment, to test the air in two places. One, right by the highway; the other, behind a row of shaggy, glossy-leaved magnolias.

“One of the reasons we picked this location is because it has these beautiful magnolia trees,” Dr. Fuller said.

She and her students are setting up the same experiment around metro Atlanta, to figure out what kinds of trees, planted in what kinds of configurations, are best at filtering ultrafine particles. Dr. Fuller said she hopes to use the research to inform policy and planning decisions, and to help people who live near highways.

Read more about Dr. Christina Fuller’s research.

Learn more about Dr. Christina Fuller.

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