Air Pollution in China not just impacting cities
As people in Beijing and northern China struggle with severe air pollution this winter, the toxic air is also making life hard for plants and even food crops of China, say researchers who have been looking at how China's plants are affected by air pollution.
Beijing's extreme smog event this week has made headlines, with the American Embassy calling the pollution levels "hazardous" and Beijing writer Zheng Yuanjie blogging that "the air smells like sulfur perfume, as the capital city currently looks like a poisonous huge gas can," according to a report on Al Jazeera.
"In the last 50 years there has been a 16-fold increase in ozone pollution" in the Beijing area, said Hanqin Tian of Auburn University in Alabama, who studies the effects of China's pollution and climate change on plants. He said the soup of pollutants, including harmful sulfur and nitrogen compounds "is definitely expanding into new areas; into the countryside."
Ozone is particularly harmful to plants because it damages the pores on leaves, called stomata, which plants use to regulate how much water transpires from the leaves. That, in turn, affects how much water a plant must take up through its roots. Changes in water uptake by plants have been documented in other parts of the world, including the United States, as having major impacts on regional groundwater and surface water supplies.
Woman sweeping a street in China via Shutterstock.
Read more at Discovery News.