Natural gas leaks and tree death: A first-look case-control study of urban trees in Chelsea, MA USA
Urban vegetation is associated with numerous public health benefits; however, urban tree canopies may be threatened by fugitive methane exposure from leaky natural gas distribution systems. Despite anecdotal evidence of the harmful impacts of natural gas leaks on urban tree decline, the relationship between soil gas exposure and tree health has not been formally quantified in an urban setting. We conducted a case-control study to compare soil natural gas exposure in sidewalk tree pits of healthy and dead or dying trees in Chelsea, Massachusetts, during summer 2019. We measured soil concentrations of methane and oxygen at four points around the trunks of 84 case and 97 control trees. Read more about JPB Senior Fellow Madeleine Scammell research.