The following is an excerpt from National Geographic.
While much of the world has baked in a heat wave this month, new research points to a surprising culprit when it comes to killing us—plants.
A study published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics found that during heat waves, plants tend to absorb less pollution from the air. That puts more people at risk of developing respiratory complications, which can lead to death. (Related: "How 100 Degrees Does a Number on You.")
The research was conducted in the United Kingdom by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York. It was financed by the U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
National Geographic reached out to the study's lead author, Lisa Emberson, but has not heard back.
The study describes the role plants play in mitigating air pollution by absorbing ozone. Ozone is well known for protecting Earth from harmful cosmic rays in the atmosphere, but when it's produced at the Earth's surface, it is the primary component of smog and can irritate human respiratory systems.
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