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Keywords:

  • Eucalyptus;
  • Fluoride bioindication;
  • Patagonia;
  • Pinus;
  • Populus

Abstract

In order to study the pollution gradient in the vicinity of a large aluminium production facility in Patagonia (Argentina), a passive biomonitoring was performed employing foliage from three tree species. Primary scope was to identify pollution gradients and to select suitable tree species which can be used as biomonitor plants in the study area. Therefore, leaves of Eucalyptus rostrata, Populus hybridus and different needle ages of Pinus radiata were collected at different distances from the industry and the fluoride concentration was analysed in washed and unwashed samples in order to determine the amount of external fluoride. Washing reduced the F-concentrations by 24, 39 and 51% on average in E. rostrata, P. hybridus and P. radiata, respectively, indicating that species-specific characteristics determine the accumulation and wash-off of dust-associated fluorine. F-concentrations varied from 6 to 3652 ppm F in unwashed samples indicating a steep pollution gradient in the study area. The influence of F-emissions was discernible in all samples up to a distance of 3500 m from the smelter. E. rostrata accumulated more fluorine than the other species at equal distance from the emission source. The present study confirms that aluminium smelting results in high F deposition in the study area. Establishing a biomonitor network around large emitters is suitable and feasible to evaluate the efficiency of air control measures.