Investigations into air pollutant concentrations across inner Sydney and their relationships with urban forestry

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It is widely understood that the activities of plants can influence the concentration of ambient air pollutants. The research presented here assessed urban air pollution across Sydney, and examined whether higher concentrations of urban forests were associated with quantifiable effects on ambient air pollutant levels. The findings indicate that areas with higher concentrations of urban forests may lead to better air quality with respect to reduced ambient particulate matter, however, if the greenspace was composed of grass, increased fungal concentrations were observed. A further investigation was made, aimed at assessing the potential contribution of senescent leaves to the diversity of airborne fungal propagules during autumn. The fungi aerosolized from autumn leaf samples were commonly found in the autumn air samples, thus it is likely that phyllospheric fungi present on deciduating leaves contribute to the aeromycota of these urban areas. An additional investigation studied the diversity of aeromycota associated with forty urban bird roosts. Associations were established between Rhodotorula and Pacific black ducks, wood ducks, myna birds and miner birds. Further associations were established between Penicillium, Scopulariopsis and Cunninghamella and pigeons, sparrows and swallows. Indoor air quality in buildings located within the same sampling sites as used in the first study, were used to make a comparison across building ventilation types. Generalising, it was found that the indoor air quality of a typical Australian office building does not pose a health issue to occupants. As the air in naturally ventilated buildings largely resembles that of the proximal outdoor air, urban forests will influence the composition of air pollutants within these buildings, both positively and negatively. The results combined, demonstrate that urban forests does influence air pollutants substantially, either through the reduction of ambient particulate matter, or the facilitation of bioaerosols either directly or indirectly. In light of these results, I propose that the research methods developed here can be used for other field studies related to air pollutants, and that the data here not only contributes new valuable data on the distribution and behaviour of air pollutants but also identifies possible sources and preventative mechanisms.
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