Validation of particulate dispersion models by native lichens as point receptors: a case study from NE Italy.

Affiliation

Department of Life Sciences, University of Trieste, Via Licio Giorgieri, 10, I-34127, Trieste, Italy. [Email]

Abstract

Atmospheric dispersion model (ADM) simulations are increasingly used as management tools in air pollution monitoring programs, even in the absence of proper validation. Biomonitors can provide important information for ADM validation, but an open question is their temporal frame of application, particularly when native organisms are used. In this study, we tested two alternative ADM simulating the total suspended particulate (TSP) released by a coal power station, against the element content of two native lichens collected at 40 sites, integrated by soil samples. The ADM simulations differed by the time references: the 6-month period preceding lichen sampling, approximately corresponding to the estimated age of the samples (Mod. A), and the whole year 2005, representative of the local average conditions and used in the plant authorization processes (Mod. B). A generalized regression model analysis clearly showed that the Cr, Pb and V content of lichen samples was spatially associated to the outcomes of Mod. A, but not with Mod. B. Interestingly, the Cr content of lichen samples consistently correlated to TSP concentration predicted by Mod. A along two transects placed downwind from the coal power station. This result was corroborated by an air particulate matter sampling which pointed out that air Cr concentrations increased during the operative period of the source. Overall, our results suggest that lichen bioaccumulation data can proficiently be used to validate ADM simulations if the exposure time of the biological samples is consistent with the temporal domain of the ADM simulations.

Keywords

Air pollution,Bioaccumulation,Dispersion models,Enrichment factor,Exposure time,Lichen growth,

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