Plant Nutrients and Soils - 13 Plants and Air Pollutants While plants may be good candidates for soil remediation, they are very sensitive to air pollutants. Many plants show great damage to when exposed to toxic levels of air pollutants, such as sulfur oxides and many heavy metals. Growth is reduced when stomata close in response to ozone, which damages mesophyll cells. Other components of photochemical smog can reduce photosynthetic rate by 66%. Sulfur dioxide damaged leaf Ozone damaged Although it first seems that elevated levels of CO 2 in our atmosphere would promote photosynthesis and plant growth, controlled studies show mixed results, in part because increased rate of photosynthesis requires more enzymes and proteins to support increased growth rates, and available nitrogen soon becomes a limiting factor. Plants become nitrogen poor. Herbivores have lower quality feed, and this problem escalates as we go through the food chain. Epiphytes, Parasites,
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