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Urban Forests Are Saving Lives in Your City

A recent study by the USDA's Forest Service indicates the increasing importance of maintaining urban green space, especially ahead of the expected population increases in Nashville. By creating digital models, researchers have tried to estimate the impact urban trees have on the health of a population.

The researchers estimate that 17.4 million tons of air pollution is removed from the United States every year, with a human health value of $6.8 billion. These numbers are based on the typical range of particles that have been collected or deposited on solid urban surfaces, decreasing the concentration of the particles in the air. This decreases numerous causes of acute repertory symptoms, and asthma exacerbation. Additionally, health impacts included the avoidance of more than 850 incidences of human mortality and 670,000 incidences of various other respiratory symptoms.

This removal was substantially greater in rural areas than urban areas, but the pollution removal monetary value was substantially greater in urban areas compared with rural areas.

“With more than 80 percent of Americans living in urban area, this research underscores how truly essential urban forests are to people across the nation,” said Michael T. Rains, Director of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory. “Information and tools developed by Forest Service research are contributing to communities valuing and managing the 138 million acres of trees and forests that grace the nation’s cities, towns and communities.”