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A new opportunity for biomagnetic monitoring of particulate pollution in an urban environment using tree branches

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Environmental magnetism, and the magnetic leaf signal in particular, is amply investigated and applied as proxy for atmospheric particulate matter pollution. In this study, we investigated the magnetic signal of annual segments of tree branches, and the composition of particles deposited hereon. Branches are, contrary to leaves of deciduous trees, available during leaf-off seasons and exposed to air pollution year-round. We examined the intra- and inter-tree variation in saturation isothermal remanent magnetization (SIRM) of branch internodes of London plane (Platanus x aeerifolia Willd.) trees in an urban environment. The branch SIRM, normalized by surface area, ranged from 18 to 650 x 10(-6) angstrom; the median amounted to 106 x 10(-6) angstrom. Most of the branch magnetic signal was attributed to the epidermis or bark, and the presence of metal-containing particles on the branch surfaces was confirmed by SEM-EDX. The location of the trees and the height, the depth in the crown and the age of the branches significantly influenced the branch SIRM. The median branch SIRM was up to 135% higher near a busy ring road than in quiet environments (city park and quiet street canyon), and was linked to the presence of Fe-rich particles with co-occurrence of trace metals such as Cr, Cu, Zn and Mn on the branch surface. Within the tree crowns, the branch SIRM generally decreased with increasing height, and was 22% higher in the interior than at the periphery of the crowns. Within the branches, the SIRM increased with each year of exposure, but did not relate to year-to-year variation in particle concentrations due to branch surface changes (epidermis shedding). Our results provide indications that branches can be a valuable alternative for biomagnetic monitoring of particulate pollution, but intra-tree variability in branch SIRM can be substantial due to the branch's location in the tree and branch age.
Journal: Atmospheric Environment
ISSN: 1352-2310
Volume: 190
Pages: 177 - 187
Publication year:2018