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Damage to Forests from Air Pollution

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Until a few years ago damage to forests from air pollution consisted mainly of localized but very severe cases of mortality and growth loss due to oxides of sulfur or to fluoride associated with ore reduction, with a minor contribution from other sources. In recent years oxidant damage, attributed largely to ozone in Los Angeles smog, is considered partly responsible for destroying ponderosa pine in the mountains east of that city. Oxidant has also been determined as the cause of a long-known needle blight of eastern white pine now called emergence tipburn, and evidence is accumulating that the eastern white pine disease long known as chlorotic dwarf may be due to an abiotic air-borne agent. Mortality and growth loss of this species has also been occurring within a 20-mile radius of certain power plants consuming large quantities of soft coal. When potted ramets (vegetative reproductions) of selected sensitive white pine clones were exposed in an area embracing an industrial complex in east Tennessee, exposure for seven months resulted in uniformly severe damage. Ramets from resistant trees, similarly exposed, suffered no damage. Sensitive ramets kept out of the affected area remained healthy. New and important types of crop damage, including damage to trees, appears to be resulting from air pollution associated with our enormous urban development, with stack gases from new industrial processes, and with greatly increased emissions of stack gases from industrial plants using fossil fuels at rates far beyond consumption only 15 years ago.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Principal Research Scientist, Forest Disease Research, U. S. Forest Service, Asheville, N. C.

Publication date: 01 September 1964

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