Atmospheric emissions from human activity have long been known to be a health hazard. Short chimneys and, later, tall smokestacks have dispersed emissions across our landscapes in ever-widening spheres of influence, to the point where anthropogenic air pollutants today cover broad regions in developing and developed countries across the globe. Scientific study of the impact of these emissions on plants has extended beyond the dramatic local-point source problem to current major programs’ investigating effects of air pollutants on regional ecosystems. Research on air pollutants and their effects on plant life has encompassed many disciplines, thousands of research reports, and many books and symposium volumes.

The major issues and current approaches to understanding the role of gaseous air pollutants in modifying plant health involve: (1) description of the mechanism of action at the biochemical, cellular, and tissue levels, (2) characterization of pollutant exposures, (3) interactions of multiple pollutants, (4) whole-plant function,...

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