Canadian scientists prove forests reduce air pollution

Environment and Climate Change Canada
June 19, 2017
Written by Environment and Climate Change Canada
June 19, 2017 - A new study recently published in Nature Communications by scientists at Environment and Climate Change Canada discovered a missing link in lower-atmosphere ozone formation: our forests.

The shaded and relatively stagnant air of the forest ecosystem modifies the chemistry of air pollution, resulting in much less ozone formation than had been previously believed to take place. The study also showed that in the absence of forests, ground-level ozone levels would be as much as 50 percent higher.

Environment and Climate Change Canada scientists reached this conclusion after conducting atmospheric measurements, which showed substantial decreases in ozone under forest canopies. They then carried out high-tech computer modelling, which showed that these air-quality benefits from forests extend far above and downwind of the forests themselves and contribute to improved air quality in our communities.

This scientific discovery reminds Canadians of the importance of protecting our parklands, wooded spaces, and even small urban forests since they help to lower ozone levels. Lower ozone levels mean better air quality and healthier Canadians.

"Congratulations to our scientists for their excellent research that is helping us understand the importance of maintaining healthy forests in Canada. The Government of Canada believes in evidence-based policy making, and we depend on our scientists to provide objective information to inform decisions supporting the protection of our environment," Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, said.

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