05 November 2023, 18:57
Scientists from the University of South Carolina, USA, have found that fallen leaves can be harmful to health, Phys.org writes.
The reason is that the fallen leaves of deciduous trees and the needles of conifers are a source of biogenic resistant free radicals, BTA reported. This means that the blanket of rotting leaves and needles represents an unaccounted factor for toxic effects by inhalation or ingestion.
For the purposes of the study, leaves from common pine, thuja, cedar, birch, red maple and other trees were analyzed. The researchers cleaned them of dust, then dried them at a temperature of 25-35 degrees Celsius, and then moistened them. Between each cycle, the scientists examined the composition of the leaves using a spectrometer.
It was found that the levels of biogenic persistent free radicals in the samples were not only maintained but also increased during the wetting and drying cycle.
The team notes that the substances contained in the leaves do not pose a direct threat to health. During the decomposition process, however, free radicals can be absorbed into the soil and then dispersed by the winds, posing a potential risk to human health and the environment.
Free radicals are unstable molecules capable of damaging healthy cells. These particles appear in the body as a result of natural metabolism, they can get into it with food and air. Free radicals are associated with aging and many diseases because they cause oxidative stress.