Previous studies have highlighted the restorative benefits of plants. With trees in particular, the greenery helps convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, which in turn, helps humans thrive.
Now, recent findings published in the journal Environmental Pollutionfound that trees save more than 850 human lives and prevent 670,000 cases of acute respiratory symptoms annually, according to U.S. Forest Services.
For the study, researchers examined the effects of air pollution removal on people’s health. Findings showed that air pollution removal was greater in urban areas than rural areas.
Study results also showed that air pollution removal translated to an increase in the average air quality by less than one percent. Though that percentage seems rather small, researchers found that even this carried the potential to save many lives.
Furthermore, researchers had taken into account four specific pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. They also looked for health improvements linked to pulmonary, cardiac, vascular, and neurological systems.
“In terms of impacts on human health, trees in urban areas are substantially more important than rural trees due to their proximity to people,” said Nowak, in a news release. “We found that in general, the greater the tree cover, the greater the pollution removal, and the greater the removal and population density, the greater the value of human health benefits.”