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Get Out & Get Involved: iNaturalist Project Needs Your Help to Identify Plants, Mitigate Air Pollution

Itching for something to do outside? Looking for a way to help prevent air pollution? Want to get involved with local nonprofits that champion air quality? Then you’re in luck: Women for a Healthy Environment and GASP have an opportunity for yinz that involves all of the above.

Because some plants are sensitive to ozone pollution, they are more vulnerable to symptoms such as tiny, irregular flecks, bronzing, and reddening. When exposed to prolonged periods of air pollution, the leaves of some plants turn yellow and may eventually die.

As part of the iNaturalist project, you will discover some of the plants that indicate ozone pollution. For those who might not be overly familiar with ozone: It is one of the most widespread air pollutants and is formed when other pollutants (like nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds) react in the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight.

Ozone pollution can cause considerable damage to vegetation, agricultural yields, and natural ecosystems, as well as harm human health. So, in helping us identify these plants locally, you will be helping us observe indicators of ozone pollution and further understand how our local ecosystems help mitigate air pollution.

We thought it was an ideal time to mention the project, given that Allegheny County has experienced three straight days of ozone exceedances so far this week.

You can learn more and sign up to be a part of the project here.

You can get a primer on ozone-sensitive plants here and here.

Editor’s Note: Women for a Healthy Environment is an environmental health non-profit whose mission is to empower and educate communities about environmental risks so that they can make healthy choices for themselves and their families and advocate for change for a better tomorrow for all. You can learn more about their great work at www.womenforahealthyenvironment.org and www.healthyschoolspa.org.

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