Air

HOW TREES CLEAN THE AIR

Information Sources

Trees and forests are constantly cleaning our air and improving our air quality. They exhale the oxygen we need to breathe, while absorbing carbon dioxide and other air pollution. Here are four things that trees do for our atmosphere that are essential for our health and our quality of life:

1. Trees Create Oxygen
Trees are constantly absorbing carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen as a byproduct of producing the carbohydrates they require to grow. Proper oxygen levels are necessary for humans and all other animals to live. In heavily polluted cities, people are already going to the extremes of purchasing tanks of oxygen to help them breathe. Planting enough trees in and near these cities will help provide the needed oxygen and also help the cities reduce their air pollution.

Rainforests have often been called the lungs of the earth because they produce so much of the world’s oxygen. The fact is that trees planted anywhere in the world will produce life giving oxygen, which can travel through the global air currents, ultimately making all trees beneficial to everyone, everywhere.

2. Trees Reduce Air Pollution
Trees absorb and break down most of the major air pollutants including ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide. Just as we easily breathe these gases into our lungs, potentially causing us serious health issues, trees breathe them in as they draw in CO2, removing them from the air. Trees also absorb tiny particles of pollution and smog that land on their leaves and bark. Within the trees, these chemicals go through a series of biochemical reactions, which can convert them to non-harmful compounds. Due to this amazing power of trees, large forests are like giant air purifiers that help clean our air, supporting human health and longevity, as well as all life on earth.

3. Trees Remove Humid Hazes
Air pollution and water particles suspended in the air create ‘humid haze’, which has many negative impacts including trapping in heat, reducing visibility, and causing respiratory illnesses. Due to the small size of air pollution particles, they remain dispersed rather than collecting into droplets that would form clouds and fall as rain. Large forests can dramatically reduce these hazes by giving off water vapor along with friendly bacteria that trigger the humid hazes to form into clouds. The pollution and water then rains down into the forests where the trees and soil microorganisms break most of the pollutants down into safer compounds. 

4. Trees Prevent Dust Storms
There are many areas of the world where all the original plant life has been cleared and the exposed soil has turned to dust. Without trees and vegetation to slow down the winds, hold the soil in place, and keep the soil moist, the strong winds pick up the dry dust and can carry it hundreds of miles. Dust storms have become huge problems in areas without plant cover such as Texas, Arizona, the Middle East, and China. These dust storms cover everything in fine dust, causing mechanical failures, lung problems, loss of visibility, and a number of other problems including spreading disease. The increase of droughts due to climate change is making dust storms like these worse each year. Replanting enough trees in these areas can help make the soil healthy and moist again, preventing dust storms and rebuilding healthy ecosystems.

As You Can See, Trees and Forests Are Essential for Cleaning the Air We Breathe
Forests have had a huge role in making our atmosphere breathable, and keeping the land and air stable for millions of years. Most scientists estimate that as much as half of our original tree cover has now been lost. It’s up to us to bring those forests back, so that they can continue to provide the clean air we depend on them for.

Tree planting options start at just 10¢ a tree, so you can help plant a tree every day of the year for as little as $3 a month – or you can make a one time donation of any amount. By spreading the word about the Trillion Trees Campaign to your friends and family, you can help this campaign reach millions of people, and together we can fund the planting of a trillion trees.

Our Planting Partner’s Impact on Clean Air

Trees for the Future
There is a massive amount of land in Africa that is currently degraded and available for reforestation. This presents an enormous opportunity to dramatically improve our global air quality by planting trees there. The local people, with seed and education from Trees for the Future, become the providers of clean air for the rest of the world by planting forest gardens in these critical areas.

The agroforestry practices taught by Trees for the Future can transform areas that have become dry and lifeless back into forests by planting tree species that are drought tolerant, and extremely fast growing. These trees produce oxygen and improve air quality as they rebuild the soil and reboot the water cycle. This prevents dust storms and cools the air, providing a safe and healthy place for people and wildlife to live.

The Trillion Trees Campaign is 100% volunteer run with your donation going directly to Trees for the Future.