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How Much Oxygen Does One Tree Produce?

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Even a single tree can produce enough oxygen to support several people.

Even a single tree can produce enough oxygen to support several people.

Martin Ruegner, Getty Images

Question: How Much Oxygen Does One Tree Produce?

You've probably heard that trees produce oxygen, but have you ever wondered just how much oxygen one tree makes? The amount of oxygen produced by a tree depends on several factors, but here are some typical calculations.

Answer: The atmosphere of the Earth has a different composition from that of other planets in part due to the biochemical reactions of Earth's organisms. Trees and plankton play a big role in this. You've probably heard that trees produce oxygen, but have you ever wondered how much oxygen that is? You'll hear a range of numbers and ways of presenting them because the amount of oxygen produced by a tree depends on the species of tree, its age, its health, and also on the tree's surroundings. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, "a mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year." Here are some other quoted figures regarding the amount of oxygen produced by a tree:

"A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 lbs./year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings."
- McAliney, Mike. Arguments for Land Conservation: Documentation and Information Sources for Land Resources Protection, Trust for Public Land, Sacramento, CA, December, 1993

"One acre of trees annually consumes the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to that produced by driving an average car for 26,000 miles. That same acre of trees also produces enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe for a year."
- New York Times

" A 100-ft tree, 18" diameter at its base, produces 6,000 pounds of oxygen."
- Northwest Territories Forest Management

"On average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four."
- Environment Canada, Canada's national environmental agency

"Mean net annual oxygen production (after accounting for decomposition) per hectare of trees (100% tree canopy) offsets oxygen consumption of 19 people per year (eight people per acre of tree cover), but ranges from nine people per hectare of canopy cover (four people/ac cover) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to 28 people/ha cover (12 people/ac cover) in Calgary, Alberta."
- U.S. Forest Service and International Society of Arboriculture joint publication

 

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