Low hedges should be planted along roads in built-up areas of cities to help tackle pollution, a new study has urged.
The research, led by the University of Surrey, found lower hedges are more effective at combating urban air pollution than taller trees.
It found that trees can actually make pollution more concentrated depending on prevailing wind conditions and built-up configurations.
Professor Prashant Kumar, chair in air quality & health at the University of Surrey, said: ‘We all know air pollution is a major factor of everyday urban life. This comprehensive review highlights that trees and hedges, as well as other green infrastructure, must be used strategically to help create healthier, less polluted cities that are also more pleasant for everyone to live and work in.’
The study also found that green infrastructure - such as street trees, vegetation barriers, living walls and roofs - can also reduce energy consumption, mitigate climate change and provide better stormwater management.
Professor Kumar added: 'Our earlier study showed the weathering impact of air pollution on the building materials such as limestone, sandstone and carbon steel, used in many heritage buildings and built infrastructure. This is why we need to protect buildings as well as humans in cities in future urban planning, so the strategic placing of hedges, trees and other green infrastructure can have a direct benefit as an air pollution control measure in cities.'