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Tom Whitlow featured in CALS News

Tom Whitlow testing particulate sampling equipment.Tom Whitlow‘s work studying the effects of trees on airborne particulate pollution is one of the projects profiled in CALS Fights for Urban Well-Being in the Spring 2009 issue of CALS News. (Page down to subhead Finding Out if Trees Filter Air Pollution.)

Whitlow and collaborators combined wind tunnel studies with real-world monitoring in New York City:

“One of the spikes [in particulates] we saw correlated directly with an entry in the data book that said ‘Strong smell of barbecue!'” he says. “And I think it would be even more difficult to regulate barbecue than auto emissions. It is a very complex picture. Our studies show some unexpected results that are difficult to interpret.”

One thing is clear: we can’t plant enough trees in cities to cleanse the air, even if the greens did provide the ecosystem service of filtering pollutants. But monitoring particulates where human activity occurs can certainly help us decide how to regulate for cleaner air.

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