Street trees and impact on particulates - London Study

Urban trees of the Greater London Authority (GLA) area remove somewhere between 850 and 2000 tonnes of particulate pollution (PM10) from the air every year.

This work is part of the wider EU BRIDGE (sustainaBle uRban plannIng Decision support accountinG for urban mEtabilism) project on planning sustainable cities.


"Trees have evolved to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, so it's not surprising that they are also good at removing pollutants."    A surprising claim given that it would seem to be in a trees interest to shed particulates which could block absorption of sunlight.

Trees have been linked to increasing the canyon effect in streets, trapping air pollution.  Careful thought over planting is needed to encourage air circulation.


Terpenes produced by certain species of trees have been associated with increases in ozone levels. "Modelling the data revealed that the mix of terpenes and pollutants was responsible for a significant rise in ozone levels – boosting production rates by up to 50 times – particularly downwind of the plants, in suburban neighbourhoods."