News, Sustainability

Do Trees Improve Air Quality in Urban Areas?

Heard that trees improve air quality and want to check the facts?

You're in the right place.

We partner with the Woodland Trust and The National Forest to plant 100s of trees every year.

And we know exactly what the benefits are.

You may have heard trees being called the "lungs" of the planet because they absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen.

They're also the "liver" of the planet because they filter pollutants from the atmosphere.

This is how they improve the quality of the air around us.

We're here to show you how they do this and why trees are heroes of our Blooming Haus team.

Be prepared to say WOW a lot!

How Trees Improve Air Quality in Cities

1. Trees Are Natural Air Purifiers

In 2019, 99% of the world's population lived in a location that didn't meet World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality guidelines.

That's a scary figure.

But all is not lost; trees can come to the rescue.

They play a vital role in wider efforts to make every breath we take better for our health.

We're luxury floral designers in London, so we're using our surroundings as an example.

According to Impact on Urban Health, pollution from particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) in each London borough is above WHO guidance levels.

So, there's work to be done.

And planting trees is a vital part of this.

We're dedicated to doing this to help tackle climate change, as we discuss in our journal entry.

"Can Planting Trees Really Help Us Tackle Climate Change?"

And we're excited that each tree planted also improves the quality of the air we breath.

Plus, trees make our streets much better to walk along.

They're beautiful 💕.
Trees improve air quality by removing pollutants in two different ways.

Firstly, when concentrated clouds of minuscule particles crash into trees, they disperse and are diluted in the air.

This process of dispersion makes it less likely that humans will inhale them.

Secondly, minuscule particles get trapped by waxy and hairy tree leaves.

Most of these trapped particles wash away down nearby drains when it rains.

This deposition process means fewer minuscule particles in the air we breathe.
Trees really are an impressive force of nature because they also:

- Provide shade and reduce the ambient temperature.
- Act as a buffer around ancient woodlands that need protection.
- Support local wildlife by providing shelter and food.
The air purification properties of trees are especially important for human health.

Air pollution affects lung development and is involved in developing health conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and other respiratory illnesses.

Children, elderly people, and those with existing respiratory issues are most affected by the pollution around them.

But it's damaging to us all.

To optimise the effect of trees on air quality, premium places for tree planting include:

- Urban streets
- Playgrounds
- Hospital grounds
- Green spaces in cities
- Industrial estates
- Around protected habitats

2. Urban Tree Planting in London

We're proud to be part of the London landscape and passionate about protecting the environment around us.

Air quality in the city is most affected by road transport and heating systems in homes and businesses.

We use green energy in our studio and encourage others to take similar steps.

We're also keen supporters of tree planting that can help deal with London's two most problematic air pollutants, particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

These pollutants can make breathing difficult for people, so we need to do all we can to reduce their presence.
The office of the Mayor of London announced a £3.1 million tree-planting package in July 2022.

Trees for London is part of the Mayor's mission to make London a healthier and greener place to live.

Examples of tree planting initiates in London include:

- An award of £2 million to 56 community projects through the Grow Back Greener Fund in 2022, with more awards to be announced.
- Awards of £75,000 and £500,000 for two major woodland creation and tree planting projects as part of the Green and Resilient Spaces Fund Round 2.
- 31,000 tree planter packs given to London residents by the Mayor of London's office.
- 1,000 free rowan trees given to London residents by the Conservation Volunteers (TCV).

Residents and businesses in London can also sponsor a tree.
Since 2016, the Mayor of London has supported planting more than 430,000 trees.

Estimates suggest that London trees provide at least £133 million of benefits annually regarding pollution removal, carbon sequestration, and a reduction in water run-off.

This investment and work is impressive, but there's more to do.

You can keep up with the latest developments by signing up for Environment Newsletter from the Mayor of London.

3. How to Get Involved in Helping Trees Improve Air Quality

Want to get involved with helping trees improve air quality?

No problem.

You can join an organisation like The Conservation Volunteers and help with their projects.

There are also opportunities to provide corporate sponsorship or make personal donations if you don't have the time to volunteer.
You can also plant a tree in your own outside space.

We know that you may not have a huge garden if you live in an urban environment, but there are trees that you can plant in a smaller garden.

Check out this Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) article for advice.

If you're worried about caring for a tree, it's not difficult, and there are plenty of useful tips online, including the Woodland Trust video below about making a tree protector.
If you have time and patience, you can grow your own tree from seed.

The Woodland Trust gives you advice about how to do this.

5. Which Trees Are Best for Purifying the Air?

Do all trees improve air quality?

The answer to this question is that not all trees are equal when filtering the air.

So, to optimise the positive air-purifying effects of trees, it's important to choose the right ones.
Generally, trees that have dense canopies, like pines and conifers, are good natural air purifiers.

The same applies to trees with larger leaves with rough and hairy surfaces.

During a series of wind-tunnel experiments, Barbara Maher and colleagues at the University of Lancaster found that silver birch, yew, and elder trees were the most effective at capturing particles of nine species tested.

The flip side is that many deciduous trees, like the impressive Oak, are less effective at cleaning the air.
The reason oaks trees and other species, like poplar and willow, aren't as good at cleaning the air is they emit high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

These VOCs combine with NOₓ when sunlight is present to produce damaging ozone.

Estimates suggest they produce eight times as many VOCs as low-impact trees.

Experts are still working in this area, so we're not suggesting it's time to eliminate the majestic oak.

But low-impact species are a better option if you plant trees or grow them from seed because they're more valuable to improving air quality.

6. Trees are Essential to the Blooming House Sustainability Focus

We love trees.

They're natural superheroes that protect our planet every day.

And they're an integral part of our sustainable ethos at Blooming Haus.

Every time we complete a project with wedding couples or event planners, we dedicate a tree to be planted.

This is our way of showing our gratitude to our clients and nature, which contributes so much to our work.

We also dedicate a tree to be planted each year we work with a corporate client for the same reasons.

Our dedication to improving air quality in this way is influenced by one of our founders, Micheal Dariane, who's a chartered environmentalist.

And it's something we're all passionate about.
Flowers by Blooming Haus
Tree planting is only one of our sustainable working practices.

We also:

- Power our studio using green energy.
- Compost organic waste.
- Avoid using non-compostable items and reuse flower buckets and delivery packaging.
- Source flowers locally whenever we can.
- Use probiotic cleaning products where possible.
- Partner with local businesses using clean-air practices and methods for local deliveries

Given our dedication to sustainability and tree-planting, we greatly admire like-minded organisations like Ecologi, The National Forest, and the Wildlife Trust and relish the opportunity to work with them.

We combine our love of the planet, and passion for protecting it, with innovative and stunning floral designs.
Flowers by Blooming Haus
Looking for eco-friendly luxury floral design for your event?

We'll visit your venue and create sketches in situ to work from.

So you can be sure our designs will complement your venue and theme.

And we'll use sustainable working practices to create your displays.

So you get to protect the planet.

Plus, we'll dedicate a tree to be planted when your project is complete.

What could be better than that 😍?

Call us on 020 3389 9609 to set up a free no-obligation consultation.

Or, send an email to

We look forward to bringing our designs to your event.

7. What Causes Urban Air Pollution?

You can see that trees improve air quality, but what causes it in the first place?

The biggest cause in the UK is traffic emissions.

Other major causes include power plants, domestic burning, and agricultural processes.

The main pollutants in the air are:

- NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide) from vehicle emissions that causes new-onset asthma in children and a decline in lung function in older people.

- PM2.5 or particulate matter, including dust, soot, and droplets of liquid, that can enter the human bloodstream and damage organs.

- PM10 which are larger particles from similar sources to PM2.5 and can cause chronic inflammation, lung development issues in children, and lung damage in older adults.

Other pollutants that damage our environment are:

- Ozone (O₃)
- Sulfur Oxides (SOₓ)
- Nitrogen Oxides (NOₓ)
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Interestingly, around 70% of overall pollution is caused by the heating of buildings, construction, and construction-related traffic.

What is Particulate Matter, and why does it matter?

In this article about how trees improve air quality, we've mentioned particulate matter (PM).

But what is PM, and why is it important?

The term refers to anything in the air that isn't a gas.

Many particles are tiny and can easily enter the human bloodstream.

When this happens, particulates can be transported to organs such as the heart and brain.

This situation poses a serious health risk, especially to children, older adults, and people with respiratory problems.

As a result, smaller particles with the most risk are classified as PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter) and PM10 (particles less than 10 micrometres in diameter).

The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 state that PM concentrations in the UK must not exceed an annual average of 40 µg/m3 for PM10 and 20 µg/m3 for PM2.5.

In addition, the Environmental Targets (Fine Particulate Matter) (England) Regulations 2023 state that, by the end of 2040, the annual average of 10 µg/m3 for PM2.5 should not be exceeded at any monitoring station.

2040 may seem a long time away, so it's comforting to know that the Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 for England contains an interim target to be met by 2028 that an annual average of 12 µg/m3 for PM2.5 is not exceeded at any monitoring station.

Given that trees improve air quality, planting them can help us meet these targets.

8. How to Help With Air Pollution

We can all do something to help reduce air pollution.

Instead of using our cars daily, we can walk, cycle, or car share.

Using energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs is also a good idea.

And something as simple as switching lights and appliances off when possible makes a difference over time.
Not forgetting how much trees improve air quality.

So, planting them makes sense.

You can also stand up for trees when ancient woodland is threatened.

And you can speak to your local council about planting more trees.

Have Any Questions About How Trees Improve Air Quality?

If you'd like to ask anything about how trees improve air quality, add your question to the comments.

We'd also recommend looking at the websites of The Woodland Trust and Ecosia.

There's a lot of great content to read.

We'd also love to see your comments about what you're doing to improve the air around you.

9. Other Journal Entries You May Find Useful

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