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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2013 Sep;20(9):6337-43. doi: 10.1007/s11356-013-1691-0. Epub 2013 Apr 16.

The linear accumulation of atmospheric mercury by vegetable and grass leaves: Potential biomonitors for atmospheric mercury pollution.

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  • 1Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 2871, Beijing, 100085, China.


One question in the use of plants as biomonitors for atmospheric mercury (Hg) is to confirm the linear relationships of Hg concentrations between air and leaves. To explore the origin of Hg in the vegetable and grass leaves, open top chambers (OTCs) experiment was conducted to study the relationships of Hg concentrations between air and leaves of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), radish (Raphanus sativus L.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.). The influence of Hg in soil on Hg accumulation in leaves was studied simultaneously by soil Hg-enriched experiment. Hg concentrations in grass and vegetable leaves and roots were measured in both experiments. Results from OTCs experiment showed that Hg concentrations in leaves of the four species were significantly positively correlated with those in air during the growth time (p < 0.05), while results from soil Hg-enriched experiment indicated that soil-borne Hg had significant influence on Hg accumulation in the roots of each plant (p < 0.05), and some influence on vegetable leaves (p < 0.05), but no significant influence on Hg accumulation in grass leaves (p > 0.05). Thus, Hg in grass leaves is mainly originated from the atmosphere, and grass leaves are more suitable as potential biomonitors for atmospheric Hg pollution. The effect detection limits (EDLs) for the leaves of alfalfa and ryegrass were 15.1 and 22.2 ng g(-1), respectively, and the biological detection limit (BDL) for alfalfa and ryegrass was 3.4 ng m(-3).

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