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Environ Pollut. 2010 Feb;158(2):483-9. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2009.08.016. Epub 2009 Sep 26.

Lichens as an integrating tool for monitoring PAH atmospheric deposition: a comparison with soil, air and pine needles.

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University of Lisbon, Faculty of Sciences, Centre for Environmental Biology (CBA), FCUL, Campo Grande, Bloco C2, Piso 5, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal.


The aim of this study was to validate lichens as biomonitors of PAH atmospheric deposition; for that, an inter-comparison between the PAH profile and concentrations intercepted in lichens with those of air, soil and pine needles was performed. The study was conducted in a petro-industrial area and the results showed that PAH profiles in lichens were similar to those of the air and pine needles, but completely different from those of soils. Lichens accumulated higher PAH concentrations when compared to the other environmental compartments and its concentrations were significantly and linearly correlated with concentrations of PAHs in soil; we showed that a translation of the lichen PAHs concentrations into regulatory standards is possible, fulfilling one of the most important requirements of using lichens as biomonitors. With lichens we were then able to characterize the air PAHs profile of urban, petro-industrial and background areas.

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