Built-up environments limit air pollution dispersion in street canyons and lead to complex trade-offs between green infrastructure (GI) usage and its potential to reduce near-road exposure. This study evaluated the effects of an evergreen hedge on the distribution of particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5, PM10), black carbon (BC) and particle number concentrations (PNCs) in a street canyon in West London. Instrumentation was deployed around the hedge at 13 fixed locations to assess the impact of the hedge on vertical and horizontal concentration distributions. Changes in concentrations behind the hedge were measured with reference to the corresponding sampling point in front of the hedge for all sets of measurements. Results showed a significant reduction in vertical concentrations between 1 and 1.7 m height, with maximum reductions of –16% (PM1 and PM10) and –17% (PM2.5) at ∼1 m height. Horizontal concentrations revealed two zones between the building façade and the hedge, with opposite trends: (i) close to hedge (within 0.2 m), where a reduction of PM1 and PM2.5 was observed, possibly due to dilution, deposition and the barrier effect; and (ii) 0.2–3 m from the hedge, showing an increase of 13–37% (PM1) and 7–21% (PM2.5), possibly due to the blockage effect of the building, restricting dispersion. BC showed a significant reduction at breathing height (1.5 m) of between –7 and –50%, followed by –15% for PNCs in the 0.02–1 µm size range. The ELPI + analyser showed a peak of ∼30 nm. The presence of the hedge led to a ∼39 ± 32% decrease in total PNCs (0.006–10 µm), suggesting a greater removal in different modes, such as a 83 ± 12% reduction in nucleation mode (0.006–0.030 µm), 74 ± 15% in ultrafine (≤0.1 µm), and 34 ± 30% in accumulation mode (0.03–0.3 µm). These findings indicate graded filtering of particles by GI in a near-road street canyon environment. This insight will guide the improved design of GI barriers and the validation of microscale dispersion models.
Street canyons are generally highly polluted urban environments due to high traffic emissions and impeded dispersion. Green infrastructure (GI) is one potential passive control system for air pollution in street canyons, yet optimum GI design is currently unclear. This review consolidates findings from previous research on GI in street canyons and assesses the suitability of different GI forms in terms of local air quality improvement. Studies on the effects of various GI options (trees, hedges, green walls, green screens and green roofs) are critically evaluated, findings are synthesised, and possible recommendations are summarised. In addition, various measurement methods used for quantifying the effectiveness of street greening for air pollution reduction are analysed. Finally, we explore the findings of studies that have compared plant species for pollution mitigation. We conclude that the influences of different GI options on air quality in street canyons depend on street canyon geometry, meteorological conditions and vegetation characteristics. Green walls, green screens and green roofs are potentially viable GI options in existing street canyons, where there is typically a lack of available planting space. Particle deposition to leaves is usually quantified by leaf washing experiments or by microscopy imaging techniques, the latter of which indicates size distribution and is more accurate. The pollutant reduction capacity of a plant species largely depends on its macromorphology in relation to the physical environment. Certain micromorphological leaf traits also positively correlate with deposition, including grooves, ridges, trichomes, stomatal density and epicuticular wax amount. The complexity of street canyon environments and the limited number of previous studies on novel forms of GI in street canyons mean that offering specific recommendations is currently unfeasible. This review highlights a need for further research, particularly on green walls and green screens, to substantiate their efficacy and investigate technical considerations.