(NaturalNews) Trees are naturally helping to save hundreds of lives per year. In fact, in the first broad-scale approximation of its kind, researchers have estimated that trees save over 850 lives per year. Not only that, but they also can help reduce and prevent more than 670,000 cases of severe respiratory symptoms as well.
The study illustrates the importance of trees not only for sequestering carbon but also for helping to remove pollutants from the air. The research indicated that the benefits of trees are especially important in urban areas due to their close proximity to humans and because 80% of the United States population lives in urban areas.
The study, which was published in the journal Environmental Pollution and conducted by scientists from the Davey Institute and the U.S. Forest Service, calculated how helpful trees were in removing four EPA quality standard indicators. These four air pollutants were ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter less than 2.5 microns. By removing these pollutants, the researchers estimated that trees help save $7 billion annually in human health costs that are associated with air pollution by merely improving air quality by less than 1 percent. That 1 percent saves a hefty cost to humans.
While there was a bigger improvement in air quality in rural areas, the effect that this improvement had on human health was greater in urban areas. Dave Nowak, who was part of the U.S. Forest Service research team, said, "In terms of impacts on human health, trees in urban areas are substantially more important than rural trees due to their proximity to people. 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."
Trees Improve Our Health
Not only do trees help reduce air pollution and therefore help us breathe easier, but it has also been found that simply touching a tree or being near one can make you feel healthier and happier. By helping to improve reaction times, depression, concentration levels, etc., trees and plants can help improve your mental outlook and overall sense of well-being.
Research presented at a 2009 American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Chicago indicated that people who live in areas that have more trees, parks, grass and green areas live longer and had improved mental and physical health. One study even indicated that your overall health could be predicted by the total amount of green space within a 1- to 3-mile radius of your home.
While this study was carried out in the United States, these results could be correlated for the rest of the world's trees, parks and green spaces. Trees can help benefit us in so many ways and, in fact, they are actually saving lives. From improving the quality of our air to increasing our mental/physical health to saving us billions of dollars in medical bills, they are one of our biggest natural assets. Maybe we should all plant a tree today!
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