Evidence of NOx and O3 concentration reduction by kudzu (Pueraria lobata) invasion at a Japanese highway

Atmospheric Pollution Research(2023)

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Generally, urban green infrastructure aids in the mitigation of air pollution. However, little is known about the role of densely packed vegetation canopies, such as Pueraria lobata (Willd.) Ohwi (kudzu) in air pollution mitigation. Here, we conducted field measurements of tropospheric ozone (O3) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) concentrations on a highway embankment slope with and without kudzu canopies in Japan. We measured O3 and NOx concentrations above and within the kudzu canopies by using a passive sampler several times during the growing season in 2019. The results demonstrated that both O3 and NOx concentrations reduced within the kudzu canopy throughout the growing season, suggesting that kudzu generally acts as “vegetation barrier” for both gas pollutants along the highway roadside. Depending on meteorological and vegetative surface conditions, the reduction rate within the canopy ranged from 11% to 64% and from −2% to 33% for O3 and NOx concentrations, respectively. Considering lower canopy height but higher leaf area density of kudzu than those for urban tree plantations or forest patches along the roadside, kudzu can be useful as green infrastructure depending on situations. We also found that the higher the leaf area index of kudzu canopies, the higher the reduction rates of O3 and NOx. Depending on the maintenance cost for roadside tree planting, the minimal management without targeting the eradication of kudzu over a certain area can be an option for realizing green infrastructure at least for maintaining local air quality during the growing season.
Green infrastructure,Gas pollutants,Kudzu,Natural invasive species,Highway
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