SimCity Strategy Guides
Pollution is a perpetual problem in SimCity. Adding Parks and green space to your city is one way to deal with the problem.
Ground pollution will naturally dissicpate over time once the source of the pollution has gone. You can actually see ground pollution in SimCity in the regular game view, heavy polluting buildings will coat the surrounding land with a thick brown, or even black, sludge. The darker the color, the longer it will take to clear.
Typically it will take about 50 game years for the sludgy brown areas of ground pollution to return to 'normal' (i.e. green) so long as the original source of the ground pollution is gone and that no new polluting buildings have been put in its place (i.e. if you got rid of a coal mine, but put high tech industry in its place, that high tech industry will still create some small amount of localized pollution). Black areas of ground will take longer still to fully clear.
It is commonly recommended that placing parks around polluted areas will 'clean' up your city, however this is not the case. Parks in your city will cause a small decrease in local air pollution. Like other city buildings in polluted areas, they will suffer the effects of ground pollution - their germ levels will rise and visiting Sims will become more likely to get sick BUT they won't actually 'absorb' or clean up ground pollution.
Planting trees (found in the Parks > Nature menu) will have no effect whatsoever on air pollution or anything else. As far as I can tell the purpose of trees is simply to make photographs of your city look nicer. They certainly don't affect nearby happiness or air quality (this may be a disabled feature, but it seems somewhat unlikely).
Really the best way to deal with pollution is not to have it in the first place!
If you are determined to try and create a 'green' city then you will have to de-zone and bulldoze polluting buildings before they generate significant areas of ground pollution. Effectively this means no heavy industry in your city, buildings like the Smelting Factory will generate that nasty black sludge within two game years. All your zoned industry will need to be high tech, in addition you'll also need to de-zone it after a while and move it around, or build a city that has no industry if you want to keep your city completely clean.
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