Pollutants in Cities Destroy Flowers’ Scents

The results of a new study could help to explain why populations of bees and other pollinators are in decline. Research published in the journal ‘Atmospheric Environment’ suggests that the scent of flowers in polluted environments travels less far, with the scents then less likely to be detected by pollinators and the plants less likely to be fertilised.

Scent particles easily bind to chemical pollutants from car exhausts and chimneys, such as ozone and nitrates. These reactions destroy the fragrance close to the source. In today’s polluted environment, the scent of flowers downwind from big cities may travel only 200- 300 metres, compared to up to 1,200 metres in less polluted conditions.

Original story in the Guardian, 14 April 2008.