Stop and Smell The Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
stop and smell the polyaromatic hydrocarbons

In what is likely the most depressing story you will read all day, scientists have determined that your car makes flowers smell less sweet. Green Car Congress has the details of a new University of Virginia study which concludes that air pollution diminishes the fragrance of flowers, making it harder for insects to pollinate them. The study, published in Atmospheric Journal, offers this explanation for documented declines in wild pollinators like bees. "The scent molecules produced by flowers in a less polluted environment, such as in the 1800s, could travel for roughly 1,000 to 1,200 meters; but in today's polluted environment downwind of major cites, they may travel only 200 to 300 meters," says co-author Jose D. Fuentes. "This makes it increasingly difficult for pollinators to locate the flowers." Researchers found that the scent compounds released by flowers to attract pollinators tend to be volatile and quickly bond with pollutants such as ozone, hydroxyl and nitrate radicals, which destroy or modify the aromas they produce. The symbiotic relationship between flowering plants and pollinators means that this breakdown can prevent reproductions for flowers and cause starvation for pollinators. Using computer models, researchers found that scent compounds likely traveled much farther in pre-industrial times than today, when pollution levels tend to be highest during the mid-summer pollination peak.

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  • Wolven Wolven on Apr 22, 2008

    This is the key statement... Using computer models, researchers found that scent compounds likely traveled much farther in pre-industrial times than today As others have pointed out, creating a computer "model" to arrive at a predetermined result is what programmers do all day long. Note also the waffling words thrown in to cover their asses... "likely" and "much". Calling that science is more than a little disingenious. Using a little simple logic, if what they're saying is true, there shouldn't be hardly any pollinators left in England. They've been heavily polluted going back much longer than the US. Oddly enough, I've never heard of England having a problem with a lack of pollinators...

  • GS650G GS650G on Apr 23, 2008

    Nice, yet another cause for the Environmental Wackos.

  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Apr 23, 2008

    If this were true, it would have been more of a problem in the US in past years than in the present (see Seoultrain, above). Air pollution in most parts of the country--certainly those where cars were the big problem--is not as bad as it used to be. Even the NJ Tpk doesn't smell as bad as it used to. (And highly industrial cities like Philly were just as bad 30 years ago, as they are now.) Furthermore, there are plenty of more likely theories about what's killing bee colonies. @GS650G: "Wackos" is the operative word. Smart, thoughtful environmentalists aren't going to pay much attention to this one.

  • Wolven Wolven on Apr 23, 2008

    Smart, thoughtful environmentalists... Hmm... Boy, it would sure be nice if smart, thoughtful environmentalists could rid their ranks of the other kind.