California Dreamin’ of Clean Air


by Susan Laszewski
Pasadena highway Taking deep breaths can help relieve stress, but depending on where you live, the air you breathe may lead to other health problems. A new study by a team of MIT researchers has found that air pollution in the U.S. contributes to more than 200,000 premature deaths each year. The researchers tracked ground-level emissions from six different sectors, including industrial, residential and vehicular emissions. Their findings, published in Atmospheric Environment, show emissions from ground transportation to have the greatest impact on health, causing 53,000 early deaths each year. The team also did a state-by-state analysis and found Ca... (Read More)



Showing Support for Clean Water


by Susan Laszewski
Stormwater flows onto a street From basement backups to beach closures, polluted runoff can have big costs for communities. In 2011, polluted runoff caused 47 percent of beach closing and advisory days. A study of 28 popular, yet polluted, beaches in Southern California calculated that swimmers suffered an estimated 1.5 million gastrointestinal illnesses, resulting in an economic loss of between $21 million and $51 million every year. When it rains in cities or suburban areas with lots of roads and rooftops, rainwater is unable to soak into the ground. Instead, it begins to rapidly accumulate and flows quickly along the surface, where it picks up sediment, pestic... (Read More)



Community ReLeaf in Detroit


by Amanda Tai
Meeting in Rouge Park with Davey Resources Group, the Greening of Detroit, and the Friends of Rouge Park Last week, Melinda Housholder and I, aka American Forests’ urban forest team, traveled to Detroit, Mich., the site of one of the Community ReLeaf 2013 projects. We had the opportunity to meet a lot of folks working on greening initiatives in Detroit and saw a lot of the city. It was a very interesting time to visit the city, being in the midst of its bankruptcy. A few neighborhoods we drove past were well-maintained with beautifully landscaped traffic islands, but the majority of what we saw was abandoned houses and buildings with boarded-up windows. Many of the abandoned neighborhoods were only a short distance from Rouge Park, our ... (Read More)



Keep Cool, Keep Clean


by Susan Laszewski
Stomata on a purple heart plantNew research published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics has found that an estimated 460 lives in the U.K. could have been saved from premature death if only trees and plants had been less stressed by a heat wave-induced drought. Trees clean our air: In addition to absorbing CO2 and producing oxygen, they also play an important role in filtering some of the most common pollutants. During a heat wave, however, a method that plants employ to conserve water also prevents them from filtering as much pollution. When the ground is dry, plants close their stomata — pore-like openings — to keep water in, but the stomata are also the mechani... (Read More)



The Giving Trees


by Scott Maxham
Apple trees are among the fruit trees being planted in this project. Credit: Liz WestWith obesity rates constantly climbing and 75 percent of adults not consuming the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables, could trees help humanity pick a pear in place of a burger? Many cities believe that free fruits and vegetables could be a simple way to engage the public and help us all stay healthy. Cities are seeing trees and plants that provide fruit, vegetables and nuts pop up all over — in medians, parking lots, abandoned lots, sidewalks and even graveyards. It is a sad fact that eating fast food is cheaper than buying fruits or vegetables. The CDC recommends that fresh and free produce be made as accessible as ... (Read More)