Measurements in the Arboretum of the Gothenburg Botanical Garden during the summer of 2018.
Photo: Jenny Klingberg

Clean the air with plants – can PAH exposure be reduced with urban vegetation?

Research project
Active research
Project size
Project period
2018 - 2022
Project owner
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Short description

There is a proven link between exposure to air pollution and an increased disease risk. Particle-bound PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) are suspected to account for a substantial part of these toxic effects. Trees can serve as sinks for air pollutants such as the carcinogenic PAHs, thereby cleaning the air. However, this effect is not well quantified. In this project we compare the differences in PAH accumulation of twelve different tree species as well as measure PAH levels in tree leaves and needles at urban sites with different pollution levels and distance to traffic. Finally, we will provide recommendations how to use the results for urban planning, choice of trees and the design of green spaces to promote good air quality.


Håkan Pleijel
Maria Grundström
Göran Wallin
Lasse Tarvainen


Jenny Klingberg, Gothenburg Botanical Garden
Henrik Sjöman, Gothenburg Botanical Garden
Bo Strandberg, Lund University