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Study: Trees capture toxic particulates from road exhaust

Digital writers

Monday, November 25, 2013, 5:17 PM -

Roadside trees can protect people from sun, noise and toxic particulates caused by automobiles, according to a new study.

The paper -- recently published in Environmental Science & Technology by researchers at Lancaster University-- posits that young silver birch trees can trap more than half of the particulates in the atmosphere.

Particulate matter, or PM2.5, has been identified as the prime component of air pollution. It was officially declared a carcinogen by the World Health Organization last month. 

RELATED: Eight year-old girl diagnosed with lung cancer following prolonged exposure to smog

Researchers at W.H.O. say the more people are exposed to damaging air particulates, the higher their risk of developing lung and bladder cancers.

Experts estimate that air pollution led to more than 220,000 lung cancer deaths globally in 2010 alone.

Researchers are working to understand how the trees absorb particulate matter. They're calling the paper an "interesting case study" that can pave the way to better urban planning.

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