Effectiveness of vegetation and sound wall-vegetation combination barriers on pollution dispersion from freeways under early morning conditions

Pollutants in tailpipe emissions can be highly elevated around roadways, and in early mornings the pollution plume can extend hundreds of meters into surrounding neighborhoods. Solid sound walls and vegetation barriers are commonly used to mitigate noise, but they also help mitigate near-road air pollution. Here the authors assess the effectiveness of barriers consisting of vegetation only and of a combination of vegetation and a solid sound wall (combination barrier) in reducing pollution concentrations downwind of roads, under stable atmospheric stability and calm to light wind conditions. Because there was no practical (no barrier) control site in the area, they primarily compare the two barrier types to each other and explore the importance of atmospheric conditions. Using measurements collected with a mobile platform, the authors develop concentration decay profiles of ultrafine and fine particles, oxides of nitrogen (NO and NO₂) and carbon monoxide downwind of a freeway in California with different barrier configurations and meteorological conditions. Diurnally averaged data collected with passive samplers indicate that pollution from morning rush hour has about equal impact as the entire remainder of the day, because of differences in atmospheric dispersion as the day progresses. Under calm and stable atmospheric conditions (wind speed <0.6 m/s); a vegetation-only barrier was more effective than a combination barrier with a total height that was somewhat lower than the vegetation-only barrier, by 10–24% in the first 160 m downwind. Under light winds (above ~ 0.6 but below 3 m/s) and stable conditions, the combination barrier was more effective the vegetation barrier alone, by 6–33%, in the first 160 m from the barrier. The average particle size downwind of the vegetation-only barrier was larger than downwind of the combination barrier, indicating that particle deposition plays an important role in the reductions observed downwind of vegetation. The results are consistent with the notion that at low wind speeds, vegetation acts as an effective barrier. Overall, adding vegetation alone or to an existing solid barrier results in lower downwind pollution concentrations, especially under low wind speeds when concentrations can be high.


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  • Accession Number: 01699026
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 13 2018 3:20PM