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Report suggests trees save lives and save billions of dollars each year

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Monday, August 11, 2014, 6:20 PM - A new national report by the U.S. Forestry Service suggests that trees don't just clean the air: They also contribute to the economy, simply by being alive.

The report says that trees save more than 850 lives and prevent 670,000 respiratory complications in the U.S. each year.

It estimates that trees save the economy roughly $7 billion dollars a year in health costs.

“With more than 80 percent of Americans living in urban area, this research underscores how truly essential urban forests are to people across the nation,” Michael T. Rains, Director of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory, said in a statement.

According to researchers, the study represents the first broad-scale estimate of the pollution trees remove from the atmosphere.

RELATED: Air pollution: The causes and impacts

Researchers looked at the amount of nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide and fine particulate matter, also referred to as PM2.5, removed by trees to draw their conclusions.

Tree cover across the U.S. is estimated at 34.2 percent.

North Dakota has one of the smallest concentrations at 2.6 percent, which New Hampshire is among the most dense at 88.9 percent. 

The paper has been published in the journal Environmental Pollution.

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