U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Date of this Version



Science of the Total Environment 468–469 (2014) 120–129


US government work


One proposed method for reducing exposure to mobile source air pollution is the construction or preservation of vegetation barriers between major roads and nearby populations. This study combined stationary and mobile monitoring approaches to determine the effects of an existing, mixed-species tree stand on near-road black carbon (BC) and particulate matter concentrations. Results indicated that wind direction and time of day significantly affected pollutant concentrations behind the tree stand. Continuous sampling revealed reductions in BC behind the barrier, relative to a clearing, during downwind (12.4% lower) and parallel (7.8% lower) wind conditions,with maximumreductions of 22% during the late afternoon when winds were fromthe road. Particle counts in the fine and coarse particle size range (0.5–10 μm aerodynamic diameter) did not show change. Mobile sampling revealed BC concentration attenuation, a result of the natural dilution and mixing that occur with transport from the road, was more gradual behind the vegetation barrier than in unobstructed areas. These findings suggest that a mature tree stand can modestly improve traffic-related air pollution in areas located adjacent to the road; however, the configuration of the tree stand can influence the likelihood and extent of pollutant reductions.