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Hedges Take the Fight to Urban Pollution

By Chris Brown

Increased pollution exposure is a seemingly inevitable trade-off of city life. However, the health impacts of pollution can bring about increased cancers, lung diseases, and even brain developmental issues. Finding ways to decrease one's daily exposure to particulates, generated by vehicle exhaust and industrial buildings, can mean the difference between a healthy future and one riddled by pollution-related diseases. One simple change lies in the innocuous roadside hedge. Recent studies have shown that the diminutive hedge can have giant impacts when it comes to decreasing traffic-related pollution.

A Brief History of the Hedge

Hedges originally emerged as remaining sections of woods, along the borders of property, when the rest had been cleared for farming. As farmland transformed to cityscape, these hedges diminished in urban areas. In modern times, hedges are now intentionally placed shrubs or short trees that line roadways, property lines, or block off areas. Hedges are often utilized to add greenery into urban environments which have become devoid of natural forestation. Not only do they add aesthetics to city scenery, but hedges have been shown to provide the health benefit of reducing surrounding pollution.

The Hedge's Pollution Cleansing Powers

A London-based field study researched changes in air pollution alongside a stretch of city road before and after hedge installation. The study found a reduction in traffic-related air pollution for an area of up to 1.7 meters high around the hedges. This was high enough to improve the breathability of passing cyclists and pedestrians using the sidewalk. Pollution decreased in all wind directions but was most significant when the wind blew parallel to the road, with reductions of 17-19 percent for some particulates. These positive results aligned with similar studies about the health benefits of green spaces in city environments.

More Reasons to Add Hedges to Your Neighborhood

Aside from their pollution-reducing benefits, hedges can provide a number of benefits for your health and happiness:

  • Provides natural, aesthetic privacy from street traffic and neighbors
  • Conserves the water required for lawns inside property by reducing evaporation and storing water in their root systems
  • Significantly reduces road noise
  • Serves as a windbreak to shelter the household and yard from wind gusts (by up to 75 percent according to agroecologist, Jude Hobbs)
  • Adds nature to your city environment which is proven to promote relaxation and calm

Planting a hedge is an immediate way to improve your daily health with the natural privacy of a living barrier from city noise and pollution.   

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Harahan, La.

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