Academic journal article Science Scope

Magnetic Leaves Reveal Most Polluted Byways

Academic journal article Science Scope

Magnetic Leaves Reveal Most Polluted Byways

Article excerpt

Tree leaves may be powerful tools for monitoring air quality and planning biking routes and walking paths, suggests a new study by scientists at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. Leaves along bus routes were up to 10 times more magnetic than leaves on quieter streets, the study found. That magnetism comes from tiny particles of pollution--such as iron oxides from diesel exhaust--that float through the air and either stick to leaves or grow right into them.

Geophysicist Bernie Housen and colleague Luigi Jovane collected several leaves from 15 trees in and around Bellingham. Five of the trees lay next to busy bus routes. Five sat on parallel but much quieter side streets. Five were in a rural area nearby. Using two measurement techniques, Housen and Jovane found that leaves along bus routes were between 2 and 8 times more magnetic than leaves from nearby streets and between 4 and 10 times more magnetic than rural leaves.

Inhaling particulate matter has been linked to a number of negative health consequences, including breathing troubles and even hear t problems. …

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