Those dirty trees: why hasn’t the EPA called for trees to be regulated?

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - USA

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill one wonders why they have not thrown the  PM10 hammer (or ax) at trees to save humans from their terrible effects /sarc.

Researchers pinpoint how trees play role in smog production

After years of scientific uncertainty and speculation, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill show exactly how trees help create one of society’s predominant environmental and health concerns: air pollution.

It has long been known that trees produce and emit isoprene, an abundant molecule in the air known to protect leaves from oxygen damage and temperature fluctuations. However, in 2004, researchers, contrary to popular assumptions, revealed that isoprene was likely involved in the production of particulate matter, tiny particles that can get lodged in lungs, lead to lung cancer and asthma, and damage other tissues, not to mention the environment.

But exactly how was anybody’s guess.

Jason Surratt, assistant professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, now reveals one mechanism by which isoprene contributes to the production of these tiny, potentially health-damaging particles.

The study found that isoprene, once it is chemically altered via exposure to the sun, reacts with man-made nitrogen oxides to create particulate matter. Nitrogen oxides are pollutants created by cars, trucks, aircrafts, coal plants and other large scale sources.

“The work presents a dramatic new wrinkle in the arguments for reducing man-made pollutants worldwide,” said Surratt, whose work was published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Isoprene evolved to protect trees and plants, but because of the presence of nitrogen oxides, it is involved in producing this negative effect on health and the environment.”

“We certainly can’t cut down all the trees,” Surratt adds, “but we can work on reducing these man-made emissions to cut down the production of fine particulate matter.”

With the precise mechanism now revealed, researchers can plug it into air quality models for better predicting episodes of air pollution and potential effects on earth’s climate. The advance would allow researchers and environmental agencies to evaluate and make regulatory decisions that impact public health and climate change.

“We observe nature’s quirks, but we must always consider that our actions do have repercussions,” said Surratt. “It’s the interaction between these natural and man-made emissions that produces this air pollution, smog and fine particulate matter – and now we know one reason for how it happens.”

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95 thoughts on “Those dirty trees: why hasn’t the EPA called for trees to be regulated?

  1. It looks like another effect of increasing CO2 will be to fertilize trees to produce more isoprene which will lead to increased air pollution. Oh no!

  2. But, but, but, the mountains were already “smokey” back in the 1750s, and uncle Nicolaus didn’t improve the internal combustion engine until a century later.

  3. The green plants (I’m also thinking of you, trees) are responsible for all the oxygen in the atmosphere. Doesn’t that lead to ozone? And what about fire? Isn’t that from a chemical reaction with oxygen? Were it not for the trees (and other green plants) we wouldn’t have any fires. Without fire we wouldn’t have to worry about carbon (ok, carbon dioxide) to warm the planet up. Without those damn trees everything would be perfect. Perfect. Perfect I tell you. Where’s my executive order pen?

  4. A few decades ago scientists discovered that evergreen trees are acidifying the streams, lakes and ground waters as the needles decompose. The acid level in the water was blamed on industry and still is today but yet no one mentions the evergreen – why – oh yes full grown forests give off more C02 than they use so they are a AWG contributor as they are a living thing like humans.

  5. We are in big trouble, from Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isoprene

    “Isoprene is the most abundant hydrocarbon measurable in the breath of humans,[8] .[9] The estimated production rate of isoprene in the human body is 0.15 µmol/(kg·h), equivalent to approximately 17 mg/day for a person weighing 70 kg. Isoprene is also common in low concentrations in many foods.”

    Until we clear this matter up do not, repeat, do not have face to face interactions with any family member or workmates.

    Oh.. and no tree hugging!

    JC

  6. An event sure to be full of “open” minds from “Peope Who Know”:

    On Closing Night, June 15, we confront the most significant environmental issue facing our planet in “Our 11th Hour: Straight Talk on Climate Change from People Who Know,” a candid conversation with award-winning climate scientists Kevin Trenberth and Richard Alley and award-winning New York Times journalist Andrew Revkin at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. We’ll cap the evening with an uplifting, 30-minute opera for audiences of all ages, Heron and the Salmon Girl. Set in the Northwest, it focuses on environmental stewardship and will be performed by Seattle Opera and Seattle Opera’s Youth Chorus.

    http://www.seattlesciencefestival.org/Science-Festival/2013-opening-closing-night-events

  7. Tom J says:
    April 25, 2013 at 8:55 am
    The green plants (I’m also thinking of you, trees) are responsible for all the oxygen in the atmosphere. Doesn’t that lead to ozone? And what about fire? Isn’t that from a chemical reaction with oxygen? Were it not for the trees (and other green plants) we wouldn’t have any fires. Without fire we wouldn’t have to worry about carbon (ok, carbon dioxide) to warm the planet up. Without those damn trees everything would be perfect. Perfect. Perfect I tell you. Where’s my executive order pen?
    ———————————————

    Go easy now. Remember you’re dealing with the type of people who thought it was a good idea to kill 40,000 elephants to save the planet.
    One never knows what they will progress to next.
    cn

  8. I agree with performixbiz. Can you clean it up: “one wonders why they have throw the PM10 hammer (or ax) at trees” I think you mean “why they have NOT THROWN”

  9. “The study found that isoprene, once it is chemically altered via exposure to the sun, reacts with man-made nitrogen oxides to create particulate matter. Nitrogen oxides are pollutants created by cars, trucks, aircrafts, coal plants and other large scale sources.”

    I guess the isoprene molecules have learned not to react with nitrogen oxides from natural sources such as wildfires, underground coal fires, and lightning strikes. /s

  10. Not only do they pollute the air, they also poison soils and waters of the world. They are at WAR with all other species. Where did you think cyanide, ricin, cardiac glycosides, juglans, and all sorts of allelochemicals come from. Plants have been poisoning the species they live with and those that feed on them for hundreds of millions of years.

    They certainly should be banned !!

  11. Understand that Carolina (UNC Chapel Hill) is the bed-wetting, liberal arts college in North Carolina. The College of Forestry is located at NC State.

    Go Wolfpack!

  12. I would venture a guess that almost everyone who reads this blog would agree that cleaning our air of REAL pollutants is a desirable goal. So sad that a political agenda has sucked billions of dollars out of that effort and wasted it on the false premise of AGW by CO2. Some people just need a hockey stick up side the head.

  13. Folks what we are witnessing is an EPA that is out of control and has that has lost touch with basic science.

    We have an EPA that wants a cleaner environment that what the earth produces.

    Every March and April portions of the Flint Hills in OK and KS are burned to destroy the woody vegetation that competes with the native grass. (trees are weeds…). Since Mankind has walked on the Great Plains fire has been used to promote the growth of grass and the mammals that feed off it. Think of the environmental damage a herd of bison do when the Republican River has so many bison drinking it’s water – that the river ceases to exist for a short time. The bison drink the river dry.

    Somehow the EPA calls the smoke from the range fires ‘pollution’. Yet, for thousands of years the earth has dealt with pollution. The EPA has no idea what the ‘natural’ amount of loading from smoke the atmosphere deals with from natural sources yet alone smoke from man.

    Yet they want an environment that is cleaner than what is normal, without that cockroach called man defacing her face.

  14. The Brits have a solution for this. They are converting some of their largest coal fired power plants to biomass (wood pellets). I’ve heard it will take a forest the size of Rhode Island to grow a sufficient amount of wood on a “sustainable” basis. Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

  15. Mother Gaia scratched her head. “Where did I put those pea-sized rocks with U.N. personhood?”, she wondered. In a lightening flash she found them. “Oh what potentialities they hold!” she thought and she slapped Her left knee and burst out laughing.

  16. One more piece of actual science the AGW crowd will ignore. I like their new phrase – climate disruption. Disruption from what? Some individuals have stated that the climate should be something specific and never change. Any change…and they can claim ANY change….will fall under their Climate Disruption label. Oh well – at least there are some sane questionning individuals around and our numbers are increasing. Those nasty nasty trees.

  17. WUWT (readers and writers) are pretty cynical with regard to one issue of science and pollution — the effects of CO2 on planetary warming, and the models (and modelers) that study those effects. And there is good reason to be cynical, not that CO2 (and other emissions such as black carbon) don’t cause warming, but rather than the hand has been overplayed, in some cases in very unscientific ways.

    So it comes as a bit of a surprise to see that WUWT appears to accept without much question that all tiny particles, regardless of chemical composition, must be harmful, must cause heart attacks, early death, and so on.

    Yet the chemical makeup of these particles differs greatly. We have known for decades that the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in diesel are carcinogenic and biologically active, they react with cells in the human body and create harmful substances. The science on other types of particles is not quite as strong. There is concern that tiny metal particles – from smelting, brake wear, engine wear, for example – might cause harm inside the body, when breathed into the lungs.

    Other particles may not be particularly harmful. While epidemiology suggests that all particles are likely to be harmful, toxicology does not. We still have a ways to go to understand which types of tiny airborne particles are most harmful, and which might not be.

    REPLY: I’m only going on what the press release says:

    Jason Surratt, assistant professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, now reveals one mechanism by which isoprene contributes to the production of these tiny, potentially health-damaging particles.

    -Anthony

    • I read many many years ago that humans died many times from breathing to much smoke in their caves . . but it did not say how many it kept from dying from the cold especially the very young. All sides of an issue must be evaluated to determine the net effects to human life lengths.

      People continue to live longer – even in third world nations.

  18. Does Malaysia have an American style EPA? They need to look into this. Ditto Indonesia which has carried out massive deforestation to make way for oil palm plantations to help out in the biofuels revolution. Oh the irony. :(

    ………oil palm plantations in Malaysia directly emit more oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds than rainforest. These compounds lead to the production of ground-level ozone (O3), an air pollutant that damages human health, plants, and materials, reduces crop productivity, and has effects on the Earth’s climate……

    http://www.pnas.org/content/106/44/18447.full

  19. Yes, Ronald Reagan was right. A pine tree produces lots of pollution, but environmentalist could never understand basic biology.

    I live in Georgia and I hate pine trees. When strong winds come up, they tend to fall on houses,and when spring comes around, they coat EVERYTHING with an ugly, yellow pollen. Plus, they drop needles, cones, and other crap all the time. They are the closest thing to a weed in the tree family.

  20. “LKMiller says:
    April 25, 2013 at 9:36 am
    Understand that Carolina (UNC Chapel Hill) is the bed-wetting, liberal arts college in North Carolina. The College of Forestry is located at NC State.
    Go Wolfpack!” Orange County Community College is the source of much disappointment: GO PACK
    Not only do you get isoprene for particulate, you get VOC’s for photochemical smog. The haze from the Great Smokey Mountains is not all particulate http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/units/urban/local-resources/downloads/vocrates.pdf

  21. John,

    Good comments. In fact, particles like these could just as well be good for us. I have read that kids who ingest dirt tend to be healthier. [I don't have a source so this is just hearsay, but it makes sense.]

    Our bodies work to combat the harmful effects of the environment. The more we are exposed to, the better [so long as we survive, of course]. If there is less to combat, the immune system’s energy is diverted to other things. I have never bought into the claims that second-hand and third-hand smoke is a cause of lung cancer, and I believe there are no legitimate studies which prove that.

    At least in the West, the air and the water are much cleaner now than a century ago. But the EPA is aggrandizing it’s power and control over the economy, so it looks for issues like this to rally around. And the average citizen, dumbed-down by decades of anti-science teaching in government schools, is easy to scare with words like “isoprene” ["What's that?!"], and “…tiny particles that can get lodged in lungs, lead to lung cancer and asthma…”: BOO!

    Scare the populace. Then open the door to their salvation. That only requires opening our wallets a little wider. Now you’re safe… until the next scare.

  22. What’s their problem? Just add a suitable catalyst, heat the atmosphere, and all isoprene will coalesce back into rubber.

  23. Yes, Ronald Reagan was right, specifically regarding tropospheric ozone. There is more low level (tropospheric) ozone now than there was, say, 100 years ago (this low level ozone isn’t to be confused with stratospheric ozone). That is because low level ozone is created via atmospheric chemistry by the mixture of oxides of nitrogen and volatile hydrocarbon gases, in the presence of bright sun. The volatile organic gases can be either from gasoline (toluene, xylene, etc.) or from vegetation (isoprene, turpene, etc.).

    People didn’t realize that emissions from trees could contribute to ozone until it was discovered by, among others, William Chameides, who is testifying with Judith Curry before the House of Representatives today (see the previous WUWT article), in the mid-1980s. Hence the Reagan quote. See this link for discussion:

    http://www.leaderu.com/science/ozone.html

    Regarding Chameides’ discovery, here is a sentence from the link:

    “Several years ago William Chameides of the Georgia Institute of Technology [now at Duke - ed.]studied satellite images of Atlanta and found that 57 percent of the city was wooded. He and his co-workers concluded that Atlanta’s trees emitted at least as many hydrocarbons as the city’s cars, trucks, buses and factories.”

  24. Here we go again. Hang on a minute. Two things . . . .

    1. Isoprene (C5H8) release from trees only increases dramatically with a rise in temperature and maximises around 40oC. As it’s getting so much colder these days – then there’s no need for alarm.

    2. I’m not a chemist – but I have been asthmatic for 52 years. Up until the mid 70’s, I believe a chemical carbonyl derivative of isoprene (Isoprenalin Sulphate BP C11H17NO3) was used worldwide as an asthma relieving agent found in Pharmaceutical Medihalers. It worked absolutely fine but was withdrawn following medical evidence that the drug caused deaths when used excessively and also (even under correct dosage) stunted some people’s growth. It was later replaced with Salbutamol. Isoprenaline Sulphate (or sulfate) is still used today to treat cardiac symptoms.

    So, does this mean that isoprene from trees causes asthma, then, when chemical formulas are modified, relieves asthma? Oh, and perhaps it might also cause the growth of trees to be stunted – or worse, trees die if there’s too much isoprene. Watch out for lots of tiny dead trees in future causing pollution. Maybe Isoprene has no connection Isoprenalin. Probably.

    Jesus. Just, how much CAGW grant money did these guys get to research this drivvle? Please.

  25. Box of Rox April 25, 2013 at 9:42

    Yes, I like your remark about the bison. Few people realize the size of some populations and the impact they have had on the environment. Passenger pigeon flocks were massive and reportedly broke limbs off trees (sorry no reference) but often missed is the incredible size of some insect populations. Melanoplus spretus was a significant species just before the end of the 19th century.

    http://bugguide.net/node/view/98442

    I think few will wish to return Melanoplus spretus to the great planes. One swarm was estimated to contain 3 trillion individuals. I don’t know how much spretus weighed but that is one heck of a lot of biomass. You can bet they ate a lot and ” degraded” everything in their path. Yet, there is litte evidence they were even here, and that is something to ponder.

    If our EPA is to be of value, they have to serve The People. As it exists now, there is every indication they have some pristine, unspoiled, fantacy world in mind that exists in their imagined uber world that really never has existed. Unfortunately, their conception of the world may not include people!!

    North America has been changed to serve the humans who occupy it. The same exists in Europe and Asia. When bison dried up the Republican river, there was no committee to establish limits on population etc, etc. Of course we have the capacity to change our behavior where bison did not. The quality of life for the bison down stream certainly suffered. I am sure it sucked to be them.

    The problem isn’t unique. As a neighbor stated succintly to me when I first moved to this part of the West: “you can be shot for taking water from the irrigation ditch. Just so you know. ” If we indeed need an EPA it is to study and solve just such problems, but the standard must be to serve The People. Serving the environment doesn’t cut it. That is meaningless. What environment? The one that existed when the Republican River dried up because too many bison drank the water or the environment when spretus ate everything in the path of their swarms? No, it has to be to maintain the quality necessary to support humanity. That is where we are now and is the problem at hand. If we fail as a species, we will be gone just as certain as spretus, and eventually leave no trace just as they have none.

  26. ““It’s the interaction between these natural and man-made emissions…”

    Since when are man-made emissions un-natural??? Are not people a part of nature?

  27. John says:
    April 25, 2013 at 10:24 am

    …. The science on other types of particles is not quite as strong. There is concern that tiny metal particles – from smelting, brake wear, engine wear, for example – might cause harm inside the body, when breathed into the lungs.

    Other particles may not be particularly harmful. While epidemiology suggests that all particles are likely to be harmful, toxicology does not. We still have a ways to go to understand which types of tiny airborne particles are most harmful, and which might not be.

    Small particles can be mechanically damaging rather than toxic. Breathing fine glass or mineral dust for instance scars lung tissue and reduces lung efficiency – i.e. silicosis, emphysema, etc. Metals can also scar the lungs, and they are generally also chemically reactive, and react more efficiently in a moist environments – like lungs. Your lungs are equipped with physiological defenses against most of these problems and work well for low level amounts. AIrborn flour and sugar powder are seriously poor inhalants as well being explosive. Wood dust from cabinetry making or or carpentry can also be hard on the system, and some types of wood will be toxic as well. The most reasonable conclusion is that excess air-born particulates in significant amounts are not a good thing, whether they are toxins or merely mechanically damaging. “Excess” can be difficult to determine. As a rule of thumb, if the dust is visible in the air, you should take steps to protect your self.

    I have to confess that my favorite mineral specimen is a massive piece of tremolite (an asbestos mineral) with largish realgar or orpiment crystals – arsenic sulfides and quite toxic. It is entertaining to show it to environmentalist acquaintances and watch their eyes open in shock that I would handle something so “dangerous” without protection. They frequently look dubious if I tell them that the stone is only hazardous if eaten or inhaled.

  28. Tell the EPA to switch from pines to fir trees and they’d be calling PETA for advice. They’re that clueless.

  29. For purple mountains majesty, above the fruited plains.
    The poem Pikes Peak was penned in 1895 and subsequently became the lyrics to the song America The Beautiful. It was not written about man made pollution. The natural varieties of smog have been with us since God made dirt.

  30. @Duster

    Yes, you’re right, toxicity isn’t the only issues with tiny particles, sometimes they can be abrasive as well. As you say, silicosis in a factory when the airborne levels of silica are high. You probably remember that California, maybe 20 years ago, forced businesses that sold sand for sandboxes to label the sand as a possible carcinogen, because sand is mostly silica? A case of not understanding dosage.

    My sense is that the types of outdoor particles people breathe every day is that for most of them, toxicity is the main issue, whereas abrasion may be more of an occupational issue. Is that your view as well?

  31. Gee, if only the Human species had somehow evolved the physical mechanisms to handle a fair amount of smoke and particulates, say by filtering…

    ACHOO!

    Ah, excuse me.

  32. My understanding is that isoprene is the building block for the family of terpenes, among which is included turpintine. If you have ever been in a coniferous forest during a hot summer day, you cannot mistake the overwhelming turpentine-like smell. The air is heavily laden and the fire hazard warnings are generally in the red. When you have a situation similar to the vapor collection over a pan of gasoline, it is not hard to imagine why. And I would suggest that forest fires produce lots of airborne particulate matter hazardous to inhale!

  33. This is the perfect scapegoat , now that global warming doesnt fly we just put it on pollution , not possible to debunk , I foresee no more carbon trade , I forsee pollution units trade :)

  34. UNC “researchers” are simply regurgitating same old stuff from decades ago to garner lucrative grants promoting the eco-agenda. Those 400 ft. Cuisinart machines with thousands of miles of HV transmission lines produce prodigious amounts of ‘man made’ nitrous oxides and ozone. Where is THAT study?

  35. Since humans and “evergreen” trees have co-evolved for quite a while in northern climates, I suspect that lighter skinned people really sensitive to such chemistry have been weeded out. Darker skin transplants from areas NOT populated by conifers might not be so lucky.

    Would be an interesting topic to study.

  36. There must be millions of non-smoking, non-grease-monkey foresters who suffer from terminal lung cancer. Oh the humanity!

    Apparently, these harmful particles are not what drives our sinuses crazy in the Spring, right? The sinus causing particles are detectable by humans. But these newly discovered harmful particles are not detectable even by foresters?

    Does it help if you work in the deep woods where there is little sunlight?

  37. Michael J. Dunn says:
    April 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm
    “My understanding is that isoprene is the building block for the family of terpenes, among which is included turpintine. If you have ever been in a coniferous forest during a hot summer day, you cannot mistake the overwhelming turpentine-like smell.”

    That odor is produced in its purest form at points where a tree has been cut or bruised. It is the odor of Pine resin.

  38. Has anyone else noticed that nitrous oxide emissions have been on the decline since the mid-90s?

  39. I remember when Nitrogen Oxides in the atmosphere, at least when created by thunderstorm activity, was considered to be of great benefit, as when it was removed from the atmosphere by rain, it became fertilizer for plants.

    I also remember hearing Reagan’s comment on TV. He was simply passing on what had been determined by an actual chemical analysis by a local Navy lab, as to the main source of the haze in the Washington area at the time. The press had a field day calling him an idiot for believing that trees could ever pollute the air. The press was apparently unaware that the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains Reagan was referring to at the time, like the Smokey’s, got their name because of the haze that, at times, originated in the mountains themselves.

  40. @Theo Goodwin

    Isn’t it pollen particles which drive sinuses crazy? If so, they are larger than the fine particles (PM2.5, smaller than 2.5 microns) which are the types of secondary organic particles being produced using isoprenes and oxides of nitrogen. See first paragraph after abstract of Surratt’s article, available free on line for size of such particles. PM2.5 can penetrate into the far corners of lungs, harder for larger particles to do so. But pollen doesn’t have to to that, it only has to get inside your nose, so it can be bigger.

    @MattN

    Yes, you are correct about the reduction of oxides of nitrogen.. Every few years, EPA tightens the amount of oxides of nitrogens vehicles put out, and as the fleet turns over, annual vehicular emissions get lower. Also, in the last 15 years, EPA has required power plants to reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen, so that source is down as well.

  41. I remember in the early 80’s when then President Reagan mentioned to a collection of reporters that ‘trees cause smog’ and ALL of them laughed at him and regarded him like he was the village idiot.

  42. @Bill March and others

    When it comes to science and math, the press are pretty helpless. That is why they laughed at Reagan (despite real science that Reagan had been briefed on), and that is why they are slow to understand the overstatement of the climate change alarmists, the games of Michael Mann and company. They also have their memes — Reagan was a dunce, therefore they didn’t even need to check and see if there was any science behind what he said about trees. A sad commentary on the press corps.

    Reporters are good with words, not so much with numbers and science, and they’re pretty tribal, once their beliefs have been decided upon. That is why the BBC decided a few years ago to no longer give air time to “skeptics” — because Greenpeace convinced them not to. And then BBC compounded the problem by claiming that they were advised by “scientists” to not do so. It took a while, but eventually somebody found the list of attendees at the meeting at which these decisions were made, and the were almost entirely enviros, perhaps one real scientist, and he was employed by an enviro group. Tribal behaviour, based upon scientific illiteracy, comounded by the kind of lying that they would scream about if others were found to have done so.

    Reporters are incapable of making judgements about science, they aren’t trained to do so any more, maybe the way to say it is that newspapers can no longer afford to hire a scientifically trained reporter. So it comes down to who they instinctively trust, and isn’t skeptics.

  43. Chuck Nolan says: “Go easy now. Remember you’re dealing with the type of people who thought it was a good idea to kill 40,000 elephants to save the planet.
    One never knows what they will progress to next.”

    You stole my thunder, Chuck. The environuts who think these things up have no common sense and consider their every idea, no matter how absurd, to be true because their intentions are noble. They are a greater danger to the planet than Big Oil.

  44. So Reagan was right after all, decades ago.,.

    But what did he know? He didn’t have the correct political beliefs. /sarc

  45. Carbon capture, what nut came up with this idea. 1) co2 is not a problem 2) how can a powerplant burn coal.gas or oil without a smokestack to provide air? If it works do we extend our tailpipes back into our cars? Lets get Al gore to test drive.

  46. RE: dbstealey says:
    April 25, 2013 at 10:43 am

    There actually is some research that shows dirt is good for kids. It may be why they eat so much of it. It activates the immune system. Kids who grow up on farms are exposed to all sorts of bacteria, while kids who grow up in the better parts of cities are not exposed. For some odd reason, when the immune system isn’t activated, it turns on the body itself, and children in the city have all sorts of allergic reactions, including reactions that manifest as asthma. Therefore, next time you hear pollution blamed for increased rates of asthma in the city, understand the blame might actually go to lack of dirt.

  47. Saliva Causes Stomach Cancer! Only when swallowed in small amounts over long periods of time.

    Credit: George Carlin

    The wisdom of some comedians. Our own natural environment is causing pollution. How is that possible? I thought things that occur naturally have positive effects on the earth.. At this rate I will be afraid of everything soon….

  48. William Fox says:
    April 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    This is the perfect scapegoat , now that global warming doesnt fly we just put it on pollution , not possible to debunk , I foresee no more carbon trade , I forsee pollution units trade :)

    ===============================

    How are we going to tax the trees? i just dont see it…. :)

  49. Somewhere up there President Reagan just paused in his story telling, smiled and said good-naturedly, “Yes, I tried to tell them that…”

  50. dbstealey, Caleb,

    There’s a lot of literature on this for allergies in general. However, hay fever is probably the best example, as it didn’t exist (much) prior to hygienic practices.

    The connection between parasitic organisms (and their eradication in various locales – such as Victorian London, for hay fever), is well established, although the prevailing hypothesis at the time was that the London gentry had “finely chiseled noses” that caused the problem.

    Similarly with asthma and food allergies, dirt is good.

  51. Well, isoprene and PM10 are all very interesting, but why isn’t anyone talking about the elephant in the room, DHMO (DiHydrogen Monoxide)? More deaths are caused annually by this dangerous substance than isoprene could ever hope for, yet the EPA has still failed to regulate it. They find this stuff in every body of water on the planet, without exception, but where is the call to action?

    http://www.gumbopages.com/fridge/dmho.html

    ;-)

  52. @ Box of Rocks, Life is a sexually transmitted, terminal dis-ease.
    Author also forgotten.
    @Micheal D Smith, video of EPA staff, reporters and key environmentally “educated” persons all signing the petition to ban DHMO, would be invaluable for exposing their incompetence.

  53. Well, what about the terpines? And a host of other chemicals know and unknown evolved by plants to poison predators and poison competing plants. Spices fall into this category, as do analogues of many of he herbicides and insecticides we use.

    And OMG the smoke! Never mind that our cousins, H. erectus domesticated fire about a million years ago and those phenotypes among us whose progenitors chased the herds retreating from the ice sheets may not be represented today but for burning inside caves, lean to’s, yurts, etc.

    Cough!

  54. Not only do plants cause pollution, they also indulge in chemical warfare. Crowberries for example exude chemicals that kill tree seedlings (to avoid being overshadowed by the trees).
    A friend of mine told me that the SNV (the Swedish EPA) once considered a generic threshold limit for organic aerosols. Fortunately they did measure the level in a pine forest after a rain before issuing the regulation, and that was the end of that idea. They would have had to put practically the whole country off limits.

  55. Bill H says:
    April 25, 2013 at 7:16 pm
    How are we going to tax the trees? i just don’t see it…. :)
    =============================================
    You tax their owners.
    So all those who own forests …. like Big Al ….

    Now, where did I put my chainsaw?

  56. Bill H. says:

    > How are we going to tax the trees? i just dont see it…. :)

    That’s an easy one. The pharaohs of Egypt ruled by pointing at the Sun and pronouncing some scary nonsense. Such is the nature of man that the same trick can be played over and over.

    Just point at the trees and tax the suckers for something else, like artificial fertiliser.

  57. RoHa says:
    April 25, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    “I’ve never trusted trees. I’m sure they’re up to something.”
    ==========================================
    Get an axe and take out as many as you can before they get you. My guess is you can probably outrun them if they go after you. Good luck.

  58. “A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.” ~ William Blake

    Here’s a funny thing: Ihave to switch Java off, in order to be able to reply. With Java on, I get no “post comment” button.

  59. philincalifornia says:
    April 25, 2013 at 8:17 pm
    dbstealey says:
    April 25, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. That is one thing I like about WUWT. The feedback gets your mind moving, even when you start the day sluggish. I started researching the flu and why dirt is good for children, and before I knew it you had stimulated me to write an essay:

    http://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/h7n9-flu-doent-change-reality-kids-need-dirt/

    Thanks again.

  60. The toxicity’s in the dose.

    A whiff of tobacco smoke never hurt anyone. Campfire smoke would have destroyed humans long ago, if breathing some every night was as toxic as claimed.

  61. - I recently wrote of this I saw massive clouds of dust coming off pine trees & thought “surely this would effect the climate ?”
    – When I was in Northern Cyprus some days were overcast and cooler than expected due to what I thought was dust in the clouds from the Sahara, but a few days later on the Troodo mountains I observed there were huge clouds of pine dust coming off the tree…surely this would effect the climate ? but I never heard anyone talk about it.

  62. I think that people are missing the point here. A group of “environmental advocates” have been trying to get rid of cars for years. It was smog in the 60’s and 70’s, then lead, then global warming, then climate disruption. Since all of those have failed in the quest to get rid of the automobile they have to find a new “pollution” caused by cars. Cars put out NOX so THEY are the cause of the pollution. (which is “potentially” harmful.) Hence we have to get rid of cars, reprise.

    They individual automobile of course represents freedom for people and a restriction on the governments ability to control where we go and what we do. To a large extent it represents western civilization. That is the real reason to get rid of the auto. Hence, “Good trees are forced to pollute by the evil automobile.”

  63. Particulates, like “second-hand” tobacco smoke, are a bane on mankind, a self imposed scourge.
    Or so we’re told.
    My questions: Where are the bodies? Where is the catastrophe?
    Point it out to me, please.
    We can die from particulates.
    Or, we can die from exposure and starvation and disease. Scourges that modern fossil-fueled prosperity does indeed ameliorate.
    More misanthropic guilt trips.
    I’m not participating. Gonna go sit amongst the trees and breath the fresh particulates.
    LOL.

  64. jknapp says:

    > A group of “environmental advocates” have been trying to get rid of cars for years. It was smog in the 60′s and 70′s, then lead, then global warming, then climate disruption.

    I respectfully request an exception for lead and Clair Patterson, who told us about it. The toxicity of lead was recognised long before automobiles. It is clearly not a good thing to have in your car fuel, at the concentrations required for TEL to have any useful effect. Workers at Ethyl Corporation and associated refineries were dying by the dozen from lead poisoning. But it took Clair Patterson years of heroic efforts to debunk the aggressive junk science that was used to attribute those deaths to something else. He was not an “environmental advocate” and did not belong to any group. He just knew about lead and how to measure it.

  65. PLEASE tell me this research was not guv’mnt funded. We have the name “blue” mountains in both Eastern and Western parts of the US. And these idiots actually thought they were “discovering” something????? Has it come to this? A Ph.D. means that you officially have NO COMMON SENSE? Okay, now you have my red feathers RUFFLED!

  66. I’m sorry that I am entering this discussion so late, but I would like to point out that this is not a new issue. It’s been talked about for well over fifty years. In the 1950’s some blamed trees for the smog problem in LA. Saying that there was an historic smog problem in the LA basis before current human development, that related to the trees. They were laughed at.

    About 30 years ago the California University at Riverside conducted threshold research on photo-chemical smog. It was pretty sophisticated, using advanced molecular analyses to determine the exact components of photo-chemical smog. It turned out that Smog was an amazing hodgepodge of ever changing chemicals in a chemical brew that is excited by solar energy into new configurations. The LA basin is the perfect place to check that outcome since the sea breezes take coastal pollution from cars in the early morning and roll it through Pasadena to Riverside by mid afternoon. Today its Riverside that experiences the burden of the most unhealthy air pollution from autos and trucks and photo-chemical smog. Remember, its not smoke.

    UC Riverside’s Smog Research on Photo-Chemcical Smog still stands as the strongest data base on Smog formation that we have. It remains the data base for CA’s Photo-Chemical smog reduction program in LA, the Central Valley and other non-attainment areas.

    And yes, trees are a part of it.

    Photo-chemical smog is an amazing mixture of Hydrocarbons and Nox. There is a roll for trees. They do emit. Realistically they are likely not the primary contributors to small particle PM.

  67. Pamela Gray says:

    > We have the name “blue” mountains in both Eastern and Western parts of the US.

    And we have An Càrn Gorm in Scotland and Die Blauberge in Bayern. But all that these names tell us is that these mountains are visible from a great distance, or, alternatively, that there is light-scattering matter in line of sight. The greater the distance, the more matter, and all matter scatters light. If there was nothing but nitrogen, they would still appear blue, or even “smoky”.

  68. I’ve been tired of the tree fetish for a long time. There’s so many trees along the roads it’s gotten like driving through a tunnel almost.

  69. Gene, that is only a part of it. I live in the US SE. You can ‘literally’ watch the process happen once the air temps get above 15C and there is enough sunlight (sun zenith angle here at the equinox is 57 degrees (roughly 1 radian). The day starts off hazy from the water then that clears then it gets hazy from the ethylene and other VOC from the trees.

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