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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 2, Issue 1 — January 1976

The Response of Woody Species to Air Pollutants in an Urban Environment    (View PDF)

Eileen Brennan and Ann F. Rhoads

Abstract: New Jersey is a small, heavily industrialized, highly populated state. Its air quality frequently exceeds the critical concentrations of several pollutants causing extensive plant damage. In a study conducted from 1973-1975 we systematically documented and evaluated the effect of air pollutants on trees. Among the gaseous pollutants that caused significant damage to many species were hydrogen fluoride and ozone. Sulfur dioxide damage was conspicuously absent, no doubt due to legal restrictions on burning high sulfur fuels during that period. A particulate causing extensive damage was cement dust, and this occurred in a native oak forest some 30 years after the dust had been emitted into the ambient air from a local source. Along heavily traveled highways another particulate, cadmium, was detected in appreciable quantities in certain tree species, particularly pin oak. Although it did not cause visible damage to the tree as did the other pollutants, there are aspects of the pollutant-plant interaction that merit attention.


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