Pollution stealing flowers' scent

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London, Apr 12 (UNI) Next time you buy a bouquet of flowers and it does not smell that great, blame it on pollution.

A new University of Virginia study said air pollution from power plants and cars was destroying the fragrance of flowers and hence inhibiting the ability of pollinating insects like bees and butterflies to follow scent trails to their source.

Co-author of the study, Prof Jose Fuentes of the university said, ''It quickly became apparent after experiments that air pollution destroys the aroma of flowers, by as much as 90 per cent from periods before automobiles and heavy industry. And the more air pollution there is in a region, the greater the destruction of the flower scents.'' ''By this token, towns and cities ought to be the worst possible places for bees,'' Stuart Roberts of the Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, Reading University, said.

''The scent molecules produced by flowers in a less polluted environment, such as in the 1800s, could travel for roughly 1,000 to 1,200 meters; but in today's polluted environment downwind of major cites, they may travel only 200 to 300 meters,'' Prof Fuentes said, adding, ''This makes it increasingly difficult for pollinators to locate the flowers.'' UNI XC SKB SSC1233

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