Trace element accumulation in Pseudevernia furfuracea (L.) Zopf exposed in Italy's so called Triangle of Death.

Research paper by S S Sorbo, G G Aprile, S S Strumia, R Castaldo RC Cobianchi, A A Leone, A A Basile

Indexed on: 07 Oct '08Published on: 07 Oct '08Published in: Science of the Total Environment


Trace element accumulation in the lichen Pseudevernia furfuracea (L.) Zopf was studied in the district of Acerra (province of Naples, southern Italy), one of the points forming Italy's Triangle of Death. P. furfuracea thalli, collected from Mt. Faito (province of Naples), were transplanted and exposed in bags at different sites in Acerra district, classified into three different site types (urban, rural and industrial). We aimed to test the hypothesis that P. furfuracea, when transplanted in the district of Acerra, would respond to air pollution accumulating trace elements and that element concentrations in the exposed lichens were different in relation to the three different environments, characterised by different pollution sources. Samples were exposed for six months, periodically collected and examined by ICP MS spectrometer assays to measure concentrations of 10 trace elements (Al, As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Pb, V and Zn). The exposed samples showed increases in concentrations of all the examined elements; the trace element concentrations were evaluated by calculating exposed to control (EC) ratios, for each site and each trace element, to better understand the accumulation rates. EC ratios were evaluated after 3 and 6 month exposures, at the end of spring and summer respectively: 6 month EC values were the highest. The urban sites showed EC ratios generally higher than industrial and rural; the most accumulated elements were Pb and Cu (at the urban sites), Cu and Zn (at the industrial sites), and Cu and As (at the rural sites). The chemical data were then processed using a multivariate approach (ordination, PCA) to better understand environmental gradients. Bioaccumulation data and PCA analysis showed the sampling sites separated by different trace element abundance. Trace element abundance patterns in the three site types are discussed in relation to the land use and the pollution sources.