Lichen biomonitoring of seasonal outdoor air quality at schools in an industrial city in Thailand

Boonpeng C., Sangiamdee D., Noikrad S. & Boonpragob K.
Environmental Science and Pollution Research
30: 59909–59924
Poor air quality in school environments causes adverse health effects in children and decreases their academic performance. The main objective of this study was to use lichens as a biomonitoring tool for assessing outdoor air quality at schools in the industrial area of Laem Chabang municipality in Thailand. Thalli of the lichen Parmotrema tinctorum were transplanted from an unpolluted area to nine schools in the industrial area and to a control site. The lichens were exposed for four periods in the dry, hot, early rainy, and late rainy seasons, for 90 days each. The concentrations of 14 elements, including As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Ni, Pb, Sb, Ti, V, and Zn, were determined using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), and 8 physiological parameters were measured. The concentrations of all 14 investigated elements were clearly higher at the schools than at the control site. The contamination factors (CFs) suggested that 9 out of the 14 elements, including As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Mo, Pb, Sb, and Ti, heavily contaminated the school environments, especially Pb, the concentration of which was 3 to 11 times higher than at the control site. The most polluted time was the hot season as evidenced by the investigated elements, and the least polluted time was the late rainy season. The pollution load indices (PLIs) demonstrated that schools in the inner and middle zones clearly had higher pollution loads than the schools in the outer zone during the rainy seasons, while the hot and dry seasons showed similar pollution levels in all zones. The vitality indices (VIs) showed that the lower lichen vitalities at most schools were observed during the dry season and at the schools in the inner and middle zones. Accordingly, the air performance indices (APIs) revealed that poorer air quality at most schools was found during the dry season and at the schools in the inner and middle zones. This study clearly showed that the transplanted lichen P. tinctorum was an effective bioindicator of air quality in school environments. The results illustrated that all studied schools were contaminated by air pollutants; therefore, improving air quality at the schools is crucial and should be an urgent issue for maintaining good health and may benefit children's academic achievements and careers in the long run. air performance index, air pollution, bioindicator, laem chabang, lichen transplant, parmotrema tinctorum, physiological parameter, trace element, chlorophyll fluorescence, pseudevernia-furfuracea, parmotrema-tinctorum, heavy-metals, pollution, indoor, accumulation, urban, bioaccumulation, morphology
Wednesday, 17 May 2023 12:22