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GEOGRAPHY, ENVIRONMENT, SUSTAINABILITY

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Leaves of trees and shrubs as bioindicators of air pollution by particulate matter in Saint Petersburg

https://doi.org/10.24057/2071-9388-2019-65

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Abstract

Accumulation of chemical elements by leaves of trees and shrubs in urban (Central District of St. Petersburg) and background habitats were studied. To determine proportion of pollutants accumulating on the surface of leaves, chemical content of washed and unwashed leaves were analyzed. The results of the study showed that big part (19-62%) of pollutants is deposited on the surface of leaves of urban lindens, and only 10% on the surface of leaves from background places. Average difference between quantity of particulate matter for them is 4 times. Tilia cordata and Ulmus laevis has the highest value of ash content between washing and washing leaves. The level of contamination (Kk) showed high values for Fe (8.83), Co (7.47), Cr (5.62), Pb (4.31), Zn (3.04) for unwashed leaves of urban lindens; for the washed leaves this index slightly increased only for Fe (3.12) and Pb (2.13). Accumulative ability depends on the structure of leaf blade of each species, and the ecological situation of the habitat. Ulmus laevis, Tilia cordata, Populus sp., and Rosa rugosa accumulate more pollutants, and can be recommended for protective green plantings. Tilia cordata, as the most common species in the city green spaces, can be used as an indicator of the level of atmospheric pollution.

For citation:


Terekhina N.V., Ufimtseva M.D. Leaves of trees and shrubs as bioindicators of air pollution by particulate matter in Saint Petersburg. GEOGRAPHY, ENVIRONMENT, SUSTAINABILITY. 2020;13(1):224-232. https://doi.org/10.24057/2071-9388-2019-65

INTRODUCTION

The growth of urbanization is accompanied by an in­crease in atmospheric air pollution, the source of which is thermal power plants, industrial enterprises and, often to a greater extent, emissions of motor vehicles. This is espe­cially pronounced in countries where the control and man­agement of environmental impact processes are at a low level. Air pollution negatively affects public health, thereby worsening the socio-economic situation in cities (Ghio et al. 2001).

In St. Petersburg over the past 30 years, especially since 2009, the emissions of pollutants into the atmospheric air have significantly increased, which was accompanied by an increase in the incidence of the population. The Central Dis­trict, characterized by a high density of urban development and large road traffic flows, has the highest non-carcinogen- ic risk index for the period 2010-2015 among all districts of the city (Movchan et al. 2018). The negative influence of par­ticulate pollution on public health and on the urban trees considered in the article Beckett K.P et al. (1998). For the as­sessment and monitoring of air pollution in St. Petersburg, there is an automated system that includes 25 automatic sta­tions (3 of them are in Central District), 2 stationary observa­tion posts, and 3 mobile laboratories. The stations are located in all 18 administrative districts of St. Petersburg, providing daily information on the level of air pollution in the city. Re­corded data for a number of chemical compounds: CO, NO, NO2, SO2, O3, PM10 - particulate matter with a diameter of less than 10 microns, PM2.5 - particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns. The average annual concentration of PM10 in the central part of the city over the past 10 years had declined from 1.1 to 0.2 MPC - maximum permissible concentration of pollutants in the air of populated areas (GN 2.1.6.2604-10); the maximum single concentrations of PM10 vary from 2.1 to 1.0 MPC (Ecological portal of St. Petersburg 2019). More detailed information on the quality and quantity of particulate matter is not available.

Indirect assessment of air pollution is obtained by mea­suring the amount of pollutants in the snow cover. In the works of Nesterov EM et al. (2009), Vorontsova A.V., Nesterov E.M. (2012), Vorontsova A.V. (2013), Yufereva L.M. (2013) it is shown that the high concentrations of chemical elements (Zn, Cu, Fe, V), which are accumulated in the snow cover of the Central District, do not exceed the MPC for chemicals in the water of water bodies for drinking and cultural and domestic water use. It is also noted that in winter the atmo­spheric air is cleaner.

The shortcomings of the available methods for assessing the degree of atmospheric pollution make us look for other approaches. Phytoindication is one of such methods that al­lows obtaining information on the qualitative characteristics and chemical composition of particles deposited on the sur­face of plant leaves (Tomasevic et al. 2005; S^bo et al. 2012; Nowak et al. 2013; Yang et al. 2015). To do this, samples of leaves are divided into two parts, one of which is washed. The difference in the concentrations of chemical elements in unwashed and washed leaves will show what part of them was deposited on the surface of the leaves. We chose this method, despite the fact that it has a number of difficulties in application. Overview of problems related with interaction between urban vegetation and particle air pollution is pre­sented in article by Janhall S. (2015). In particular, there are different ways to wash leaves: mechanical cleaning, washing through solvents, weak acid solutions, but also sample wash­ing with distilled water (Ugolini et al. 2013). Previous studies have shown that these approaches may give different results (Alfani 1996; Aksoy et al. 1997; Palmieri et al. 2005; Tomasevic et al. 2005; De Nicola et al. 2008; Dzierzanowski et al. 2011). The washing procedure prior to chemical analysis is a crit­ical point in biomonitoring studies, since removal of parti­cles from a leaf surface strongly depends on the washing treatment and its duration (Tomasevic et al. 2011). Another problem with the use of this method is that differences in the accumulation of pollutants are determined by the struc­ture of the leaf surface of different plant species, leaf area, and their life cycle (evergreen or deciduous plants) (Popek et al. 2013; Ugolini et al. 2013). Anicic M. et al. (2011) note the elements content in the leaves does not reflect atmospheric deposition directly. However, many scientists recommend using urban woody plants for phytoindication and remedi­ation (Janhall 2015; Yang et al. 2015; Bargagli et al. 2019).

Our previous data (Ufimtseva, Terekhina 2014, 2017) give an idea of soil and plant contamination in the district, but do not reflect the contribution of atmospheric pollutants, there­fore the goal of this study are to find out what proportion of air pollutants is included in the structure of leaves of different trees and shrubs, and which is deposited on their surface; also which species should be used to assess the quality of the urban environment, and which ones should be recom­mended for the creation of protective green spaces.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Objects of research in the Central District of St. Petersburg are the tree species widely used in city landscaping: Tilia cor- data (10 samples), Populus sp. (4), as well as less common trees and shrubs: Quercus robur (1), Ulmus laevis (2), Syringa vulgaris (1), Cotoneaster lucidus (1), Berberis vulgaris (1), Syrin- ga josikaea (1), Rosa rugosa ( 1 sample). In total, 22 samples of urban plants were studied. Shrubs grew on the Field of Mars (Marsovo Polye), woody plants grew in different types of ur­ban planting: gardens, parks, street plantings. Sampling was carried out in August 2006, when for a long time there was no rain. Medium samples of leaves without petioles were tak­en, at a height of 1-2 m from the soil surface along the entire perimeter of crowns from 3-5 neighboring trees or shrubs. Samples were divided into 2 parts, one part was washed in in running tap water for 10 s. We assume that a certain amount of substances can be washed out of leaf tissues when wash­ing, but we hope that these are not significant values. Then the samples were placed in paper bags with labels and dried to air dry condition.

Primary sample preparation of plant samples was carried out according to generally accepted methods (Guidelines 1972). Ashing of plant samples was carried out by the dry method in a muffle furnace at a temperature of 400-450 ° C. The ash content was calculated using the formula: % ash = (M / p) * 100, where M - the weight of the ash, g; p - the weight of the sample of dry matter, g.

The determination of the chemical composition of the plant ash was carried out in the spectral analysis laboratory of the Russian Geological Research Institute (VSEGEI) by the atomic emission method with inductively coupled plasma (ICP AES) for the following elements: Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, Pb, Ni, Cr, Co, Cd, Ba, Sr.

The results of spectral analyzes were processed statisti­cally. The indicators of washout for each element were calcu­lated: the difference between the content of the element in unwashed and washed leaves, expressed as a percentage of the weight of unwashed leaves. Also, the washout index was calculated for the content of ash substances in the leaves. Comparing heavy metal contents of washed and unwashed plants, a paired t-test was performed in order to determine significance of difference between them. To characterize the intensity of accumulation of chemical elements by plants and the intensity of transport and industrial pollution of the studied areas, a concentration coefficient (Kk) was calculated representing the ratio of the chemical element content in a plant growing in the studied area to its content in plants of background conditions. As a in regional background residen­tial habitats for Tilia cordata, 4 samples were taken in small settlements of the Leningrad Region; for other species, the average values of the chemical elements were calculated us­ing our previously obtained data on the chemical composi­tion of the leaves of trees in the background habitats and lit­erature data (Paribok et all. 1982; Ufimtseva, Terekhina 2005; Drozdova et al. 2015).

The total indicator of pollution, commonly used to assess the state of the soil (Saet et al. 1988), was calculated: Zc = ΣKk / (n-1), where n - the number of elements for which Kk> 1, and included in the calculation.

Data were processed by using the software Statistica. Difference on heavy metals deposition between washed and unwashed leaves within each site assessed by t-test for independent samples. Descriptive statistics calculated using Microsoft Excel.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Values of ash content and concentrations of chemical el­ements in leaves of Tilia cordata from Central District of St. Pe­tersburg and background places are presented in table 1.

 

Table 1. Concentrations of chemical elements μg*g−1 of dry matter) and ach content (%) in unwashed and washed leaves of Tilia cordata from Central District of St. Petersburg and from background places in Leningrad region.

ash, %

Fe

Mn

Cr

Ni

Cu

Zn

Pb

Cd

Sr

Ba

Co

Tilia cordata in city, unwashed leaves

1

9.37

1098.27

49.01

4.54

1.70

13.59

31.78

5.55

0.06

53.44

40.27

0.49

2

10.32

1577.20

48.87

5.39

1.96

16.28

39.92

6.45

0.07

52.57

41.75

0.76

3

12.32

3040.68

63.91

7.73

2.83

24.63

79.07

9.93

0.14

47.54

51.36

1.77

4

9.26

1431.02

40.87

4.18

1.76

14.63

40.27

5.93

0.09

32.96

28.42

0.69

5

8.93

1130.73

26.98

2.93

1.46

13.22

36.98

5.48

0.10

39.12

30.19

0.54

6

12.47

3653.77

64.70

5.42

2.71

25.68

62.34

13.84

0.08

32.54

57.48

1.58

7

16.03

4203.73

85.65

8.13

5.08

25.48

98.09

15.74

0.23

52.41

72.77

2.24

8

11.59

1466.63

32.30

4.39

2.79

14.25

39.97

7.88

0.12

49.93

34.87

0.77

9

6.88

437.94

31.98

1.73

1.53

8.88

21.06

2.91

0.06

47.07

22.16

0.20

10

14.74

3061.78

52.51

5.87

3.01

21.08

87.41

10.08

0.10

45.69

59.11

1.62

average

11.19

2110.18

49.68

5.03

2.48

17.77

53.69

8.38

0.11

45.33

43.84

1.07

SD

2.80

1268.25

18.07

1.96

1.09

5.98

26.27

4.02

0.05

7.84

16.00

0.68

Tilia cordata in city, washed leaves

1

8.53

298.42

33.05

1.72

0.83

8.70

17.66

2.59

0.05

44.12

23.47

0.15

2

8.94

350.02

22.15

1.87

0.72

7.54

21.72

2.96

0.04

43.70

15.37

0.18

3

8.40

352.34

18.86

1.91

0.54

7.00

19.98

2.54

0.03

31.07

9.49

0.19

4

7.60

403.91

21.78

1.71

0.78

8.59

24.85

2.96

0.08

27.36

12.54

0.19

5

8.20

321.10

20.32

1.41

0.93

10.74

28.53

2.83

0.06

60.01

18.94

0.13

6

8.74

384.89

17.59

1.83

0.68

9.08

21.14

2.94

0.03

27.87

10.92

0.23

7

10.18

398.60

29.95

1.68

1.07

7.62

25.44

3.08

0.05

38.27

11.09

0.22

8

10.04

245.71

17.88

1.47

0.86

7.54

21.98

4.64

0.11

61.63

18.27

0.15

9

6.90

188.22

33.14

1.20

1.02

7.80

17.25

1.99

0.06

49.89

17.46

0.08

10

9.95

452.42

20.81

1.58

0.77

7.37

26.77

3.01

0.04

43.79

14.23

0.23

average

8.75

339.56

23.55

1.64

0.82

8.20

22.53

2.95

0.06

42.77

15.18

0.18

SD

1.07

79.19

6.11

0.23

0.16

1.11

3.78

0.68

0.02

12.13

4.38

0.05

Tilia cordata in country, unwashed leaves

11

7.53

110.56

69.96

1.16

0.73

4.37

14.75

1.69

0.04

20.70

13.40

0.10

12

8.32

372.41

238.42

0.78

1.62

6.17

15.23

2.09

0.06

44.26

57.66

0.20

13

6.41

250.88

74.42

0.94

0.95

5.09

21.52

2.34

0.02

35.36

63.29

0.12

14

8.12

221.59

660.64

0.70

3.56

8.77

19.17

1.65

0.05

72.30

53.05

0.14

average

7.59

238.86

260.86

0.89

1.71

6.10

17.67

1.94

0.04

43.16

46.85

0.14

Tilia cordata in country, washed leaves

11

7.51

89.30

75.62

1.26

0.87

4.87

15.10

1.46

0.06

19.98

14.72

0.11

12

7.53

121.08

221.52

0.53

1.29

5.55

12.65

1.60

0.04

42.60

42.60

0.09

13

6.00

75.52

78.98

0.67

0.50

5.20

20.88

1.12

0.03

43.13

71.57

0.09

14

6.69

149.80

648.00

0.58

3.34

7.63

17.60

1.38

0.07

78.98

54.55

0.10

average

6.93

108.93

256.03

0.76

1.50

5.81

16.56

1.39

0.05

46.17

45.86

0.10

Notes. Addresses of sampling points: I - Tavricheskiy Sad, center, 2 - The middle edge of Tavricheskiy Sad along Kirochnaya St., 3 - Preobrazhenskaya Square, 4 - Klenovaya St., the alley on the left when driving from Inzhenernaya St., outer side, 5 - the same place, inside, 6 - Garden of the Winter Palace, roadside, 7 - Embankment of the Obvodny Canal, 7A, 8 - Mitropolichiy Sad, 9 - the same place, 10 - Novgorodskaya St., I

 

Ash content as an indicator of the content of inorganic leaves in leaves varies from 6.88 to 16.03% for unwashed leaves and from 6.9 to 10.18% for washed leaves of city lindens. More­over, the minimum values of both washed and unwashed leaves belong to sample № 9 taken from a healthy tree in Mi- tropolichiy garden, protected from highways by buildings. The maximum values of ash content for washed and unwashed leaves belong to sample № 7, taken on Embankment of the Obvodny Canal, geographically not very remote from the Mi- tropolichiy garden, but subject to heavy traffic load. In the first case, the difference between washed and unwashed leaves is not significant, and in the second it is 5.85% - almost a third of the ash content of unwashed leaves. The difference between the ash content of unwashed and washed leaves of city lin­dens is on average 2.44%, for leaves of background linens - 0.66%, which indicates the presence of a significant amount of ash substances on the surface of the leaves of plants in the city. There is not much information in the literature about changes in the ash content when working with washed and unwashed leaves. The article of Aksenova Yu.E. (2017) provides data for poplar in Tomsk (11 samples): the value of ash content for un­washed leaves varies from 14.07 to 26.6%, for washed leaves is 12.88-18.87%. The difference between the mean values is 2.58%, which corresponds with our data.

The average values of the content of chemical elements in the leaves of Tilia cordata presented in fig. 1, they show the highest concentrations for Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu. The amount of such biophilic element as Mn in leaves of background conditions is higher than in urban areas, while all other elements in urban plants are higher than in background ones, which indicates a violation of the zonal biological circulation of trace elements due to anthropogenic effects. Paired t-test demonstrated significance of difference between washed and unwashed leaves for all investigated elements excluded Sr. For a number of chemical elements (Ni, Cu, Zn, Pb) the results are similar to the data for Nevsky Prospect (Slepyan, 1997). Our data are consistent with data by unwashed and washed leaves of Tilia tomentosa in Cracow (Czaja et al. 2014), and Tilia platyphyllos from south-west Poland (Piczak et al. 2003), but significantly superior data by Tilia cordata for Huszlew and Lyublin (Chwil et al. 2015).

 

Fig. 1. Average values of the content of chemical elements in the leaves of Tilia cordata in urban and background habitats (mg / kg of dry matter; logarithmic scale)

 

Washout - the difference between the concentrations of chemical elements of unwashed and washed leaves of Tilia cordata, expressed as a percentage of the weight of these el­ements in unwashed samples, - is very significant. For all el­ements except Sr, it is close to 50% or exceeds this value (Fig. 2). This means that most of the chemical elements are on the surface of the leaves and washed away from it. The predom­inant elements washed out from the leaves of urban lindens are Fe (78.8%), Co (78.5%), Cr (62.9%), Ni (61.8%), Ba (59.0%), Pb (58.2%), which are the main pollutant elements. Biophilic elements have slightly lower, but also high washout values: Zn (49.8%), Mn (46.8%), Cu (48.0%), due to their technogenic penetration. Sr, despite the high content in the leaves, varies greatly in index of washing, so its average value is the lowest (4.9%). For all elements except Sr, the difference in the t-test of comparing means is significant between washed and un­washed leaves.

 

Fig. 2. Average percentages of washout of chemical elements from Tilia cordata leaves for urban habitats

 

As for the background plants, the comparison of washed and unwashed leaves shows low values of the percentage of elements washout (an average of 10%). The maximum values are Fe (47.3%), Pb (26.4%), Co (26.4%), Cr (17.5%), Ni (13.5%), which is probably due to sampling within settle­ments with anthropogenic stress. In some samples, the ex­cess of elements such as Cd, Sr, Mn in the washed leaves over their content in unwashed leaves is within the limits of the analysis error and indicates that these elements are not pol­lutants in the background conditions.

According to the data (Tomasevic et al. 2011), washout indices were calculated, based on which it can be concluded that the average difference in the concentrations of chemi­cal elements between washed and unwashed leaves of Tilia cordata, gathered in three parks of Belgrade, is 26.3 %, which is 2 times less than our indices, but the washed elements are represented mainly by the same pollutants: Fe (49.7%), Cr (38.1%), Pb (30.8%), Ni (21.5%).

Coefficient of concentration Kk (Table 2) was used to as­sess the contamination of leaves of urban plants. High av­erage values are characteristic for unwashed leaves of Tilia cordata in Fe (8.83), Co (7.47), Cr (5, 62), Pb (4.31), Zn (3.04). The total indicator of pollution Zc varies from 1,7 to 7.91 with average value 4.59. For washed leaves such high values of Kk are not observed; slightly higher values are only for Fe (3.12) and Pb (2.13), Zc varies from 1.57 to 2.9, with average value 2.34, which confirms the fact that most of the pollutants are contained in dust-like particles on the leaf surface.

 

Table 2. Coefficient of concentration and total index of contamination for unwashed and washed leaves of Tilia cordata

ash

Fe

Mn

Cr

Ni

Cu

Zn

Pb

Cd

Sr

Ba

Co

Zc

unwashed leaves

1

1.12

4.60

0.19

5.08

0.99

2.23

1.80

2.86

1.39

1.24

0.86

3.43

3.23

2

1.18

6.60

0.19

6.03

1.14

2.67

2.26

3.32

1.61

1.22

0.89

5.29

3.77

3

1.11

12.73

0.24

8.64

1.65

4.04

4.48

5.11

3.23

1.10

1.10

12.40

6.05

4

1.00

5.99

0.16

4.67

1.03

2.40

2.28

3.05

2.17

0.76

0.61

4.86

3.78

5

1.08

4.73

0.10

3.27

0.85

2.17

2.09

2.82

2.22

0.91

0.64

3.78

3.51

6

1.15

15.30

0.25

6.06

1.58

4.21

3.53

7.13

1.89

0.75

1.23

11.07

6.50

7

1.34

17.60

0.33

9.08

2.96

4.18

5.55

8.10

5.27

1.21

1.55

15.69

7.91

8

1.32

6.14

0.12

4.91

1.63

2.34

2.26

4.06

2.82

1.16

0.74

5.39

3.84

9

0.91

1.83

0.12

1.93

0.90

1.45

1.19

1.50

1.47

1.09

0.47

1.40

1.70

10

1.31

12.82

0.20

6.56

1.75

3.45

4.95

5.19

2.37

1.06

1.26

11.34

5.64

average

1.15

8.83

0.19

5.62

1.45

2.91

3.04

4.31

2.45

1.05

0.94

7.47

4.59

SD

0.14

5.31

0.07

2.19

0.63

0.98

1.49

2.07

1.15

0.18

0.34

4.75

1.86

washed leaves

1

1.23

2.74

0.13

0.26

0.55

1.50

1.07

1.86

0.94

0.96

0.50

1.49

2.16

2

1.29

3.21

0.09

0.28

0.48

1.30

1.31

2.13

0.93

0.95

0.33

1.82

2.44

3

1.21

3.23

0.07

0.29

0.36

1.20

1.21

1.83

0.66

0.67

0.20

1.99

2.36

4

1.10

3.71

0.09

0.26

0.52

1.48

1.50

2.13

1.70

0.59

0.27

1.94

2.49

5

1.18

2.95

0.08

0.22

0.62

1.85

1.72

2.04

1.33

1.30

0.40

1.30

2.08

6

1.26

3.53

0.07

0.28

0.45

1.56

1.28

2.11

0.63

0.60

0.23

2.33

2.71

7

1.47

3.66

0.12

0.26

0.71

1.31

1.54

2.22

1.10

0.83

0.24

2.28

2.42

8

1.45

2.26

0.07

0.22

0.57

1.30

1.33

3.34

2.23

1.33

0.39

1.58

2.23

9

1.00

1.73

0.13

0.18

0.68

1.34

1.04

1.44

1.22

1.08

0.37

0.85

1.57

10

1.44

4.15

0.08

0.24

0.51

1.27

1.62

2.16

0.91

0.95

0.30

2.39

2.90

average

1.26

3.12

0.09

0.25

0.55

1.41

1.36

2.13

1.16

0.93

0.32

1.80

2.34

SD

0.16

0.73

0.02

0.03

0.11

0.19

0.23

0.49

0.49

0.26

0.09

0.50

0.36

Values of ash content and concentrations of chemical el­ements in leaves of different trees and shrubs are presented in table 3. Ash content in leaves of various plants is different and depends on species, character of leaves surface and eco­logical situation of habitat (Weerakkody et al. 2018). The dif­ferences of this indicator for the studied species are present­ed in Fig. 3, but statistically they are not supported due to the insufficient number of samples. Populus sp. has the highest value of ash content as for unwashed (14.4%) and washed leaves (14.6%). It is related with xeromorphic nature of leaves, therefore big difference between ash content for unwashed and washed leaves is absent. Ulmus laevis and Rosa rugosa have rough surface of leaves that leads to accumulation of dust; other reason for Ulmus - these trees grow on the streets with heavy traffic. Tilia cordata also has the high value of ash content, but usually it is related with wide leaves cov­ered excreta of insects contributed to sticking dust. The next species Cotoneaster lucidus has hard xeromorphic leaves and relatively high ash content. Other species has ash content about 6-7%. The biggest difference between these figures for unwashed and washed leaves (19.2%) is for Ulmus laevis and Tilia cordata. For two species Syringa josikaea and Berberis vulgaris this difference is negative, because their habitat - on The Field of Mars - was relatively clean place, more than 10 m away from the roadways, with good blowing.

 

Fig. 3. Ash content (% of dry matter) in unwashed and washed leaves of investigated plants

 

Content of Fe, Cr, Ni, Cu, Pb, Ba is maximum for leaves of Ulmus laevis and Rosa rugosa. Zn, Cd, Sr have the maximum values for leaves of Poplar sp., this is the species features of accumulation. For all elements, except Zn, Cd, and Sr, the dif­ference in the t-test of comparing means is significant be­tween washed and unwashed leaves of investigated species.

The literature contains data on the accumulation of particulate matter by leaves of woody plants in different countries: for Poland and Norway (Sæbø et al. 2012), for USA (Nowak et al. 2013), for Serbia (Urosevic et al. 2019), for Iran (Norouzi et al. 2015; Kardel et al. 2018), for China (Chen et al. 2016; Liu et al. 2017); also a review of this subject is present­ed in an article by Yang, J., Chang, Y., Yan P. (2015). The series of plant species that characterize the decrease in the accu­mulation of suspended particles vary greatly depending on the local urban flora, so their use in different regions requires additional research.

Comparison of the obtained data with the content of chemical elements in a "Reference plant" (Markert 1992) showed that the Fe content for all samples exceeds the base­line level, which is explained by a significant anthropogenic load. Low level of Mn is observed in leaves of urban trees and shrubs and demonstrates violation of the ratio Fe / Mn - the excess Fe intake leads to a deficiency of Mn (Kabata-Pendias et al. 2001). For some samples, an excess of Cr, Co and Cd is noted. Poplar leaves accumulate Zn, which is its species feature. Paired t-test demonstrated significance of difference between washed and unwashed leaves for all investigated elements excluded Zn, Cd, and Sr.

Comparison of the contents of chemical elements in the leaves of linden and poplar, taken at the same points, showed that in general unwashed leaves of linden contain 2-4 times more elements (especially Fe, Cr, Pb, Ba); washed leaves of both species contain approximately the same amount of el­ements (except for Zn, Co, Cd, which in both cases prevail in poplar leaves). Thus, significantly more particulate matters are deposited on the surface of linden leaves than on the surface of poplar leaves, due to the fact that, as mentioned above, the sticky secretions of insects living on lindens serve as a suitable surface for the accumulation of pollutants.

Indicators of the percentage of substances washed away from the surface of leaves of investigated species of trees and shrubs are presented in Fig. 4. The average values of these in­dicators for all studied plants for each chemical element are ar­ranged in the following row: Fe (63.8%), Co (57.4%), Cr (37.3%), Pb (36.7%), Ni (35.7%), Cu (34.7%), Ba (28.9%), Zn (25.2%), Mn (17.9%), Cd (11.6%), Sr (3.7%). The maximum values of the av­erage washout index for all investigated chemical elements were noted in Tilia cordata (53.6%) and Ulmus laevis (52.3%). Rosa rugosa (37.2%) and Quercus robur (35.6%) are significantly behind them. Minimum washout value is for Cotoneaster lucidus (15.6%), with smooth and hard leaves. For other species, this index varies from 21 to 28%. Comparison of our data with the data of other researchers yielded the following results: for a number of evergreen plant species in Palermo (Italy) (Olivia et al. 2004), the percentage of washout for Cr is similar to ours, but for other elements we have much higher rates. In the city of Amman (Jordan), the washout for Pb, Cd, Zn, Cu is higher for Pinus eldarica than ours (Al-Alawi et al. 2007), and for Bojnourd (Iran) washing the leaves for Fraxinus excelsior removed of Cu, Zn, Pb about 20-46% (Solgi et al. 2020) which is similar to our data. Probably, these indicators depend both on species fea­tures and on the degree of air pollution in these cities.

 

Fig. 4. Percentage of chemical elements, which were washed away from the leaves of different plant specie

Note: Negative values of washout show that the content of chemical elements in washed leaves is higher than in unwashed ones.

 

Coefficients of concentration and total index of contam­ination for unwashed and washed leaves of different species of investigated trees and shrubs are presented in table 4. Pb, Cr, Cu show Kk>1 for unwashed and washed leaves of all spe­cies, whereas other elements can have Kk both more and less than 1. It should be noted that the main pollutants of urban soils in the Central Region are Zn, Pb, Cd, Cu (Ufimtseva et al. 2014). Here is also three species - Ulmus laevis, Populus sp., and Rosa rugosa - demonstrate high values by concentration of many chemical elements and total index of contamination.

 

Table 3. Concentrations of chemical elements μg*g-1 of dry matter) and ach content (%) in unwashed and washed (w) leaves of shrubs and trees from Central District of St. Petersburg

ash, %

Fe

Mn

Cr

Ni

Cu

Zn

Pb

Cd

Sr

Ba

Co

Syringa vulgaris

15

7.49

330.20

19.15

1.43

0.54

9.07

45.56

2.38

0.07

20.31

12.81

0.15

15w

7.04

157.62

32.18

1.02

0.42

6.14

41.62

1.73

0.05

16.34

8.52

0.08

Cotoneaster lucidus

16

9.58

535.85

29.67

2.05

0.73

9.51

29.78

3.06

0.06

36.20

52.29

0.26

16w

9.29

227.52

33.11

1.80

0.59

7.74

35.60

2.42

0.03

43.87

56.23

0.13

Berberis vulgaris

17

5.63

480.58

43.62

1.63

0.52

10.64

23.15

2.17

0.02

23.60

13.52

0.20

17w

6.18

216.09

33.50

1.01

0.37

7.29

14.95

1.79

0.03

19.09

9.76

0.05

Syringa josikaea

18

7.26

604.63

73.14

2.11

0.84

11.55

73.37

2.96

0.02

33.85

31.96

0.25

18w

8.45

265.88

21.59

1.64

0.58

8.01

43.76

2.19

0.05

32.36

21.96

0.13

Rosa rugosa

19

11.31

2247.08

44.69

5.67

2.35

19.57

43.67

7.22

0.10

36.54

48.98

1.11

19w

10.64

1056.34

31.30

2.83

1.17

10.26

24.68

4.27

0.05

38.18

50.10

0.55

Ulmus laevis

20

13.89

3051.15

60.26

6.35

4.46

32.23

86.97

11.31

0.11

34.04

54.46

1.43

20w

10.88

684.79

27.81

2.52

1.83

12.18

47.54

3.98

0.05

25.02

17.95

0.33

21

13.74

2134.14

61.74

4.14

2.89

19.38

65.01

9.00

0.14

43.57

43.85

1.04

21w

11.45

592.66

38.14

2.82

2.04

11.08

37.79

3.77

0.07

41.45

17.63

0.26

Quercus robur

22

7.16

756.56

22.19

2.47

1.01

7.16

24.36

3.67

0.04

12.54

17.84

0.31

22w

6.77

411.97

15.73

1.75

0.72

5.50

18.28

2.55

0.03

11.78

12.59

0.19

Populus sp.

23

11.58

753.30

31.39

2.21

2.29

11.93

141.29

3.76

0.39

29.19

17.26

0.89

 

23w

10.45

329.03

31.58

1.56

0.79

9.21

189.23

2.61

0.51

33.98

12.23

0.79

24

12.38

1740.43

41.23

3.89

3.42

16.96

137.42

6.36

0.44

45.06

38.01

1.14

24w

12.19

392.29

27.39

1.90

2.38

12.44

141.44

3.06

0.52

49.51

21.22

0.56

25

13.89

388.47

37.64

2.58

1.21

10.08

144.41

3.74

0.49

55.26

18.61

0.48

25w

13.90

174.95

33.36

2.56

1.45

9.48

145.91

2.65

0.51

63.79

17.09

0.35

26

20.96

1055.43

56.81

3.42

1.84

16.41

440.14

6.54

1.18

92.43

44.85

0.69

26w

21.78

258.95

45.54

1.99

1.11

11.04

326.69

5.51

1.15

101.06

35.28

0.23

Regional background

272.88

215.90

0.74

1.65

5.72

31.02

0.84

0.07

33.20

25.00

0.25

Reference plant (by Markert, 1992)

150

200

1.5

1.5

10

50

1

0.05

50

40

0.2

 

Table 4. Coefficients of concentration and total index of contamination for unwashed and washed (w) leaves of different species of trees and shrubs (bold text indicates the highest values for unwashed leaves)

Notes. Addresses of sampling points: 15-19 - Field of Mars, 20 - Admiralty Embankment near the Palace Bridge, 21 - Garden of the Winter Palace, roadside, 22 - Field of Mars, 23 - Preobrazhenskaya Square, 24 - Embankment of the Obvodny Canal, 7A, 25 - Mitropolichiy Sad, 26 - Novgorodskaya St., 1

 

CONCLUSIONS

As a result of the research conducted to assess the influ­ence of atmospheric pollution on the chemical composition of leaves of urban plants, the following conclusions are obtained:

  • The average values of the difference between the ash content of unwashed and washed leaves for city and back­ground lindens differ by 4 times, which indicates the increas­ing of particulate matter quantity on the surface of the leaves of urban plants. Tilia cordata and Ulmus laevis has the highest value of ash content between washing and washing leaves.
  • High concentrations of Fe, Zn, Cu and low Mn values for Tilia cordata unwashed leaves in city indicate a violation of the biological circulation of microelements due to anthropogenic effects.
  • More than half of the content of Fe, Co, Cr, Ni, Ba, Pb was washed off from the leaves of urban Tilia cordata. Washout for background Tilia cordata leaves averages 10%. High washout values are for Ulmus laevis leaves (52.3%), slightly lower - for Rosa rugosa (37.2%) and Quercus robur (35.6%).
  • Sr content in the leaves of all studied species is high, but urban values differ little from background values, that indi­cates a natural source of its entry into plants. The washout for this element is minimal.
  • The level of plants contamination (Kk) showed high val­ues for Fe (8.83), Co (7.47), Cr (5.62), Pb (4.31), Zn (3.04) for un­washed leaves of Tilia For the washed leaves, slightly increased values of Kk were only for Fe (3.12), Cr (2.16) and Pb (2.13). For all other species of plants Pb, Cr, Cu show Kk>1 for unwashed and washed leaves. Ulmus laevis, Populus sp., and Rosa rugosa accumulate more chemical elements, then other species.

Results of the study showed the most of pollutants - Fe, Co, Cr, Ni, Ba, Pb - deposited on the surface of the leaves and can be washed off into the soil with precipitation. Different types of trees and shrubs accumulate pollutants in different ways, most of all they are accumulated by leaves of Ulmus lae­vis, Tilia cordata, Populus sp., Rosa rugosa. One can recommend them for use in green areas, creating protective vegetation strips along the obviously dangerous point and line technical objects, with the aim of improving the ecological situation in general and protecting the health of the local population in particular. Tilia cordata can be used as bioindicator of city air pollution by particulate matter. 

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About the Authors

Nataliia V. Terekhina
Institute of Earth Sciences, Saint-Petersburg State University
Russian Federation
33/35, 10 line, Vasileostrovsky Island, Saint-Petersburg, 199178


Margarita D. Ufimtseva
Institute of Earth Sciences, Saint-Petersburg State University
Russian Federation
33/35, 10 line, Vasileostrovsky Island, Saint-Petersburg, 199178


For citation:


Terekhina N.V., Ufimtseva M.D. Leaves of trees and shrubs as bioindicators of air pollution by particulate matter in Saint Petersburg. GEOGRAPHY, ENVIRONMENT, SUSTAINABILITY. 2020;13(1):224-232. https://doi.org/10.24057/2071-9388-2019-65

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