Maria monitoring air quality as part of her project into plants, air quality and health

Plants, Ambient Air Quality, and Human Health

Grantham Scholar Maria del Carmen Redondo Bermudez published by Springer on plant-based mitigation of air pollution.

Springer’s Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Because Springer believes that there is a research gap around the SDGs they have created a new SDG encyclopedia. This is a 17 volume publication, one for each SDG. Last year we were delighted to have 2 Grantham Scholars published in the encyclopedia. Now they are joined by a third, Maria del Carmen Redondo Bermudez.

Maria’s chapter is Plants, Ambient Air Quality, and Human Health. It is in the Good Health and Well-Being volume, and it focuses on the role plants could play in mitigating air pollution.

Plants, air quality and health: Maria’s project at the Grantham Centre

The need for air pollution mitigation is increasingly vital. For example in 2016 there were 4.2 million premature deaths from outdoor air pollution.

Of course, tackling the sources of air pollution must be the main objective. However, finding ways to prevent deaths and illnesses from air pollution is increasingly important. And this is why the Grantham Centre funded Maria’s BREATHE project, which explores the use of plant barriers to mitigate air pollution.

Green barriers are made of specially selected plants. These plants are then structured in such a way to potentially decrease air pollution in the areas they contain. As well as mitigating air pollution, plants have other benefits, such as the creation of green spaces that improve well-being and foster a connection to nature. Find out more about green barriers in our interview with Maria.

Overview of Maria’s chapter in Springer’s SDG Encyclopedia

In her chapter Maria describes how the use of plants in Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) can contribute to solving the air quality challenge.

Specifically, she describes how plants can help to mitigate air pollution through physical and phytoremediation (purifying the air that surrounds them) mechanisms. Plants can disperse/deflect air pollution and act as sinks of particulate matter that adheres to their leaves. Additionally, they can absorb certain gases, such as nitrogen dioxide.

The context of green infrastructure

Green infrastructure (GI) (a pragmatic way to deliver NBS) needs to take account of the context plants will be in. This includes sources of air pollution, geospatial and meteorological conditions, as well existing vegetation. Also, to be effective, GI projects must consider processes and mechanisms that occur in and outside the plants.

There are many types of GI, such as parks, street trees, green barriers, green walls, and green roofs. This variety means planners can adapt the use of vegetation to the characteristics of the urban landscape.


Other Grantham Scholars have written chapters in Springer’s Encyclopedia. To find out more follow the links below.

Grantham Scholar Nicole Kennard wrote 2 chapters, both for Volume 2: Zero Hunger. Read: Grantham Scholar published in Springer’s Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Grantham Scholar George Asiamah published a chapter in the No Poverty volume. Read: Pro-Poor Development Strategies chapter from Grantham Scholar published by Springer