Boulder's 'ozone garden' tells you when pollution is in the air

BOULDER, Colo. - Boulder researchers may have found another reason to plant community gardens in urban areas. Colorado University's "ozone garden" alerts you to the presence of excessive ozone levels in the air by turning brown. The garden has been curated to include specialized plants whose chlorophyll cells die when exposed to pollutants, causing the leaves to spot.

Ozone occurs when emissions react to sunlight. "The Front Range has so much sunlight. The environmental conditions are very favorable for the formation of ozone," says garden co-founder Danica Lombardozzi. She and researcher Kateryna Lapina planted the first garden at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and a second at the University of Colorado's Boulder campus.

"It makes visible an invisible problem", says Lombardozzi.

Bio-indicator gardens can identify potential air-quality hazards affecting crop yields or alert the public to dangerous levels of car emissions. Ozone directly impacts our breathing. Populations can better understand how environment influences public health by tracking the damage done to ozone-sensitive plants.

Print this article Back to Top