Urban particulate pollution reduction by four species of green roof vegetation in a UK city

A. F. Speak, J. J. Rothwell, S. J. Lindley, C. L. Smith

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Urban particulate pollution in the UK remains at levels which have the potential to cause negative impacts on human health. There is a need, therefore, for mitigation strategies within cities, especially with regards to vehicular sources. The use of vegetation as a passive filter of urban air has been previously investigated, however green roof vegetation has not been specifically considered. The present study aims to quantify the effectiveness of four green roof species - creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera), red fescue (Festuca rubra), ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata) and sedum (Sedum album) - at capturing particulate matter smaller than 10 μm (PM 10). Plants were grown in a location away from major road sources of PM 10 and transplanted onto two roofs in Manchester city centre. One roof is adjacent to a major traffic source and one roof is characterised more by urban background inputs. Significant differences in metal containing PM 10 capture were found between sites and between species. Site differences were explained by proximity to major sources. Species differences arise from differences in macro and micro morphology of the above surface biomass. The study finds that the grasses, A. stolonifera and F. rubra, are more effective than P. lanceolata and S. album at PM 10 capture. Quantification of the annual PM 10 removal potential was calculated under a maximum sedum green roof installation scenario for an area of the city centre, which totals 325 ha. Remediation of 2.3% (±0.1%) of 9.18 tonnes PM 10 inputs for this area could be achieved under this scenario. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-293
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Green roof
  • Magnetic biomonitoring
  • PM 10
  • Sedum


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