20 August 2018
Overall, an estimated 1.4 billion kg of air pollutants were removed by woodlands, plants, grasslands and other UK vegetation in 2015.
One of the many benefits of trees is their ability to improve air quality by intercepting harmful pollution in the air.
To show just how much of an impact trees can have on air pollution, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has created an interactive map showing the role of vegetation in removing air pollutants, and the benefits they provide to human health through reductions in exposure.
Simply enter your postcode and get an estimate of how many kilograms of pollution were removed by vegetation in your immediate area in 2015.
It also estimates the healthcare costs this helped to save in your wider area.
In Greater Manchester, the avoided healthcare costs resultant from pollution removed by trees and other vegetation were estimated to be approximately £15-16 per person in 2015 - that’s more than £40 million in total!
Trees and other greenery are able to remove PM2.5 from the air. PM2.5 is particularly dangerous because it stays in the air longer than other pollutants and can penetrate deep into the lungs, triggering respiratory conditions like asthma. It is emitted from car exhausts, power plants and some types of domestic heating.
It’s important to remember that these figures are estimates, and trees are only part of the answer to capturing air pollution in our towns and cities. But it’s fascinating to see how much of an impact they can have, especially as cleaning the air is just one of many health benefits trees can offer us!
By Laurence Adams