The Effects of Air Pollutants on Vegetation and the Role of Vegetation in Reducing Atmospheric Pollution

Topics: Air pollution, Oxygen, Ozone Pages: 41 (18244 words) Published: January 25, 2015
The Effects of Air Pollutants on Vegetation and
the Role of Vegetation in Reducing
Atmospheric Pollution
Iuliana Florentina Gheorghe1 and Barbu Ion2

University of Bucharest, Faculty of Ecology and Environmental Protection 2Forest Research and Management Institute

1. Introduction
The main air pollutants are represented by gases forms, particles in suspension, different ionizing radiation and noise.
The gases forms are: oxidized and reduced forms of carbon (CO2, CO, CH4), of nitrogen (NO2, NO, N2O4, NH3, NH4+), SO2, O3, C6H6 vapours, Hg, volatile phenols, Cl2, etc. The particulate forms are: PM10 and PM2.5 particulate matter, heavy metals with toxic effect (Pb, Ni, Cd, As), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons PAHs, etc. Atmospheric pollutants have a negative effect on the plants; they can have direct toxic effects, or indirectly by changing soil pH followed by solubilization of toxic salts of metals like aluminum. The particulate matters have a negative mechanical effect. They cover the leaf blade reducing light penetration and blocking the opening of stomata. These impediments influence strongly the process of photosynthesis which rate declines sharply.

Also the leaves of the trees have an important role in retention of the particulate matters; they are mostly affected when the wet and dry atmospheric deposition increase. The vegetation plays an important positive role in atmospheric purification and air pollutants reduction.

The primary producers represented by plants are an important component in biogeochemical cycles. The vegetation made exchanges with a part of the atmospheric gases by photosynthesis, respiration processes, and the final stage of litter decomposition which mineralization.

The plants play an important role in reducing atmospheric CO2 content, by photosynthesis. This reduction of atmospheric CO2 content has an important role in reducing of greenhouse gases, participating in reducing greenhouse effect and its consequences on climatic changes. The carbon stored in plants is the result of balance between carbon fixed by photosynthesis and carbon released in the atmosphere by respiration.

As the structure of vegetation is more complex, the carbon stock in plants biomass is higher and the period of storage is longer. The most efficient type of vegetation in storing carbon in terms of carbon stored in plants alive is the temperate-continental forest; and in terms of carbon stored in dead organic matter are peat lands.


The Impact of Air Pollution on Health, Economy, Environment and Agricultural Sources

Trees have also been planted to reduce the intensity of ionizing radiation and noise in different urban and industrial areas. The existence of vegetation in an area creates a microclimate where the temperature differentials between day and night are buffered. This prevents the occurrence of warmer temperatures which stimulate the production of volatile pollutants into the atmosphere.

2. General information about air pollution
Environmental pollution is any discharge of material or energy into water, land, or air that causes or may cause acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) detriment to the Earth's ecological balance or that lowers the quality of life. Pollutants may cause primary damage, with direct identifiable impact on the environment, or secondary damage in the form of minor perturbations in the delicate balance of the biological food web that are detectable only over long time periods.

Air pollution is the process which the substances and the energy forms are not present in normal atmospheric composition reach the atmosphere, or are present but in much lower concentrations.Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, or cause damage to the natural environment or built environment, into the atmosphere. More than...

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