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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Georgia State Researcher Studies Trees As Buffers to Traffic Pollution

A strip of trees and other vegetation may offer a cost-effective barrier to pollution from busy roadways, according to a study conducted by a team of researchers led by the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.

[Photo: Dr. Christina H. Fuller]

Air pollution from traffic is a problem in urban areas, associated with serious health problems such as asthma, heart disease and lung cancer. Governments have relied on strategies such as emissions standards, promoting mass transit and constructed barriers to protect schools and neighborhoods from pollution from adjacent highways, the authors noted.

The study examined the potential for a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees to serve as a pollution barrier at an Atlanta-area middle school on a property alongside a stretch of interstate that carries about 150,000 vehicles per day. Markers of traffic pollution were monitored at the site — which has an existing strip of irregular vegetation — during spring, fall and winter.

Though the initial results were mixed, the authors found that further study of such vegetative barriers is warranted.

Dr. Christina H. Fuller, assistant professor of environmental health, was the lead author on the paper titled “Phenology of a Vegetation Barrier and Resulting Impacts on Near-Highway Particle Number and Black Carbon Concentrations on a School Campus” and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.