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Efficacy of green infrastructure in reducing exposure to local, traffic-related sources of airborne particulate matter (PM)

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  • H.A. Sheikh
  • B.A. Maher
  • A.W. Woods
  • P.Y. Tung
  • R.J. Harrison
Article number166598
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/12/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Science of the Total Environment
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date30/08/23
<mark>Original language</mark>English


One aim of roadside green infrastructure (GI) is to mitigate exposure to local, traffic-generated pollutants. Here, we determine the efficacy of roadside GI in improving local air quality through the deposition and/or dispersion of airborne particulate matter (PM). PM was collected on both pumped air filters and on the leaves of a recently installed ‘tredge’ (trees managed as a head-high hedge) at an open road environment next to a primary school in Manchester, U.K. The magnetic properties of PM deposited on leaves and filters (size fractions PM10 and PM2.5) were deduced from hysteresis loops, first-order reversal curves (FORCs), and low-temperature remanence measurements. These were complemented with electron microscopy to identify changes in magnetic PM concentration downwind of the tredge/GI. We show that the tredge is permeable to airflow using a simple CO2 tracer experiment; hence, it allows interception and subsequent deposition of PM on its leaves. Magnetic loadings per m3 of air from filters (PM10 saturation magnetisation, Ms, at 5 K) were reduced by 40 % behind the tredge and a further 63 % in the playground; a total reduction of 78 % compared to roadside air. For the PM2.5 fraction, the reduction in magnetic loading behind the tredge was remarkable (82 %), reflecting efficient diffusional capture of sub-5 nm Fe-oxide particles by the tredge. Some direct mixing of roadside and playground air occurs at the back of the playground, caused by air flow over, and/or through gaps in, the slowly-permeable tredge. The magnetic loading on tredge leaves increased over successive days, capturing ~23 % of local, traffic-derived PM10. Using a heuristic two-dimensional turbulent mixing model, we assess the limited dispersion of PM < 22.5 μm induced by eddies in the tredge wake. This study demonstrates that PM deposition on leaves reduces exposure significantly in this school playground setting; hence, providing a cost-effective mitigation strategy.