While the USDA and University of Toronto had revealed the biofuel-generating qualities of kudzu, the University of Virginia researchers sideline the green leafy vine to be an unending source of ozone. The nitrogen-fixing legume – native to Japan and southeastern China – doubles nitric oxide (NO) emissions from soils because of increasing nitrogen (N) inputs and cycling in soils. Consequently, the ozone level in ground-level goes up to cause asthma and cancer, and poses threat to crops, trees and other vegetation as well. The study was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this month.
Manuel Lerdau, an environmental studies and biology professor at the University of Virginia and one of the study’s authors, says…
People worried about kudzu invasion previously were worried about its effect on biodiversity. We’re saying there are more worries about kudzu than biodiversity. It has an effect on air quality and human health.
Three sites in Georgia’s Madison County were selected for researches involving the effects of kudzu invasions. A computer model revealed that kudzu could tally up to seven high ozone alerts each summer in some areas. As kudzu is now spreading northward, it could turn all of the United States into an afflicted zone.