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Grow the plant that saves lives

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If you’re wondering what to plant in your yard, scientists at the U.S. Forestry Service recommend that you put in a few of the plants that have been proven to save lives.

According to a study performed at the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, trees in the U.S. save 850 lives a year by reducing air pollution. They also prevent 670,000 annual incidents of acute respiratory problems.

The research shows that tree’s ability to remediate air pollution is directly linked to improved human health. The researchers demonstrated that pollution removal is substantially increased in rural areas than urban locations, but the benefits on human health are more important in cities.

“With more than 80 percent of Americans living in urban areas, this research underscores how truly essential urban forests are to people across the nation,” says researcher Michael T. Rains, director of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory. “Information and tools developed by Forest Service research are contributing to communities valuing and managing the 138 million acres of trees and forests that grace the nation’s cities, towns and communities.”

The scientists focused on the effects of four pollutants: nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone and small, air-borne particulate matter.

The health results of these pollutants include lung problems, heart disease, vascular difficulties and neurological dysfunction. In the United States, there are about 130,000 annual deaths linked to tiny particulates floating in the air and about 4,700 deaths linked to ozone.

Trees reduce all of this pollution.

“In terms of impacts on human health, trees in urban areas are substantially more important than rural trees due to their proximity to people,” says researcher Dave Nowak. “We found that in general, the greater the tree cover, the greater the pollution removal, and the greater the removal and population density, the greater the value of human health benefits.”

So, what’s in your yard?

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