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The moss that saved Portland

from NRDC

Orthotrichum lyellii is the hero of this story. You've probably met it before: a tuft of green with soft tassels of leaves, stuck to a tree trunk or possibly a rock. Unlike plants with roots, this moss absorbs all it needs from air—an adaptation that allowed it to pinpoint poisons in Portland, Oregon, two years back. In the spring of 2015, Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) conducted tests as part of its Portland Air Toxics Solutions project. The department was monitoring dirty compounds that persist in the air via car exhaust, fuel burning, construction, and industrial processes. more

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