Air pollutants pose a risk to forest health and vitality in the United States. Here we present the major findings from a national scale air pollution assessment that is part of the United States’ 2003 Report on Sustainable Forests. We examine trends and the percent forest subjected to specific levels of ozone and wet deposition of sulfate, nitrate, and ammonium. Results are reported by Resource Planning Act (RPA) reporting region and integrated by forest type using multivariate clustering. Estimates of sulfate deposition for forested areas had decreasing trends (1994–2000) across RPA regions that were statistically significant for North and South RPA regions. Nitrate deposition rates were relatively constant for the 1994 to 2000 period, but the South RPA region had a statistically decreasing trend. The North and South RPA regions experienced the highest ammonium deposition rates and showed slightly decreasing trends. Ozone concentrations were highest in portions of the Pacific Coast RPA region and relatively high across much of the South RPA region. Both the South and Rocky Mountain RPA regions had an increasing trend in ozone exposure. Ozone-induced foliar injury to sensitive species was recorded in all regions except for the Rocky Mountain region. The multivariate analysis showed that the oak-hickory and loblolly-short leaf pine forest types were generally exposed to more air pollution than other forest types, and the redwood, western whitepine, and larch forest types were generally exposed to less. These findings offer a new approach to national air pollution assessments and are intended to help focus research and planning initiatives related to air pollution and forest health.
Coulston, John W.; Riitters, Kurt H.; Smith, Grethchen C. 2004. A preliminary assessment of the Montréal process indicators of air pollution for the United States. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 95: 57-74