Growth of white oak (Quercus alba L.) trees was examined, using tree-ring analysis, at three sites near a small, remote coal-fired power plant in central Pennsylvania, USA. Forests immediately adjacent to the power plant have been subjected to power plant emissions since the power plant initiated operation in 1954. However, localised, ground-level fumigations have been gradually reduced over the years due to a series of construction projects resulting in increased stack heights. Comparisons of growth were made among the white oaks growing at three close-in sites, as well to the growth of white oak at three control sites located 10-50 km from the power plant, during periods of differing stack heights. White oak exhibited reduced growth at two of the close-in sites during the time period when historical ground-level air pollution exposures were assumed to be greatest due to low stack heights. White oak growth at the third close-in site was not substantially reduced during this time period. In 1976, taller stacks were implemented at the power plant to reduce local, ground-level concentrations of air-pollutants. The recovery of tree growth at the two close-in affected sites, and increased synchronous growth responses from 1976-85 among all three close-in sites, indicates that implementation of taller stacks in 1976 reduced ground-level pollutant levels to such dosages that growth was not impaired at any site. Also, growth rates after 1976 were comparable to the growth rates of the white oaks growing in the control sites. A possible interacting factor was a severe drought that occurred in the mid-1960s in central Pennsylvania.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis