Special Issue "Environmental and Biological Monitoring: Analytical Methods and Assessment"

A special issue of Toxics (ISSN 2305-6304). This special issue belongs to the section "Risk Assessment and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 November 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Octavio Pérez Luzardo
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Guest Editor
1. Toxicology Department, Research Institute of Biomedical and Health Sciences, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain
2. CIBER OBN, Biomedical Research Networking Center for Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition, Carlos III Health Institute, Madrid, Spain
Interests: toxicology; food safety; risk assessment; chromatography; mass spectrometry; environmental health; applied chemical analysis; chemical pollution
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Katrin Vorkamp
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej 399, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Environmental monitoring is the systematic and repeated observation of harmful factors that affect the environment in which living beings live, according to predetermined standards or rules. Thus, aspects such as  chemicals, and other pollutants in a specific location can be monitored. Specifically, biomonitoring is the procedure by which the body burden of toxic or potentially toxic chemicals, in living beings, is assessed as a means of evaluating the exposure. Blood and urine are the most common samples, but other tissues and fluids can also be used, such as hair, feathers, or breast milk, among others. Biomonitoring can be done either directly or with the help of indicators (bioindicators).

This Special Issue is dedicated to the publication of technical and methodological developments for the collection of monitoring and biomonitoring data, as well as advances in the design of monitoring systems. The Issue also covers the use of monitoring data already obtained by standard methods to assess anthropogenic impacts on natural resources and the environment. The analysis of geographic information systems and remote sensing studies that relate polluting activities to alterations in biodiversity or land cover, or that affect global climate change, is also the target of this Special Issue. Articles combining monitoring/biomonitoring data with toxicological, epidemiological, and health data are especially welcome.

Prof. Dr. Octavio Pérez Luzardo
Dr. Katrin Vorkamp
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Sampling techniques
  • Optimization of monitoring networks
  • Data handling
  • Quality and assurance procedures
  • Exposure assessment
  • Methods and procedures of pollution risk assessment
  • Geographic information systems analysis
  • Remote sensing

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

Article
Detecting Arsenic Contamination Using Satellite Imagery and Machine Learning
Toxics 2021, 9(12), 333; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9120333 - 03 Dec 2021
Viewed by 621
Abstract
Arsenic, a potent carcinogen and neurotoxin, affects over 200 million people globally. Current detection methods are laborious, expensive, and unscalable, being difficult to implement in developing regions and during crises such as COVID-19. This study attempts to determine if a relationship exists between [...] Read more.
Arsenic, a potent carcinogen and neurotoxin, affects over 200 million people globally. Current detection methods are laborious, expensive, and unscalable, being difficult to implement in developing regions and during crises such as COVID-19. This study attempts to determine if a relationship exists between soil’s hyperspectral data and arsenic concentration using NASA’s Hyperion satellite. It is the first arsenic study to use satellite-based hyperspectral data and apply a classification approach. Four regression machine learning models are tested to determine this correlation in soil with bare land cover. Raw data are converted to reflectance, problematic atmospheric influences are removed, characteristic wavelengths are selected, and four noise reduction algorithms are tested. The combination of data augmentation, Genetic Algorithm, Second Derivative Transformation, and Random Forest regression (R2=0.840 and normalized root mean squared error (re-scaled to [0,1]) = 0.122) shows strong correlation, performing better than past models despite using noisier satellite data (versus lab-processed samples). Three binary classification machine learning models are then applied to identify high-risk shrub-covered regions in ten U.S. states, achieving strong accuracy (=0.693) and F1-score (=0.728). Overall, these results suggest that such a methodology is practical and can provide a sustainable alternative to arsenic contamination detection. Full article
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Article
A Hybrid Neural Network–Particle Swarm Optimization Informed Spatial Interpolation Technique for Groundwater Quality Mapping in a Small Island Province of the Philippines
Toxics 2021, 9(11), 273; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9110273 - 21 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 453
Abstract
Water quality monitoring demands the use of spatial interpolation techniques due to on-ground challenges. The implementation of various spatial interpolation methods results in significant variations from the true spatial distribution of water quality in a specific location. The aim of this research is [...] Read more.
Water quality monitoring demands the use of spatial interpolation techniques due to on-ground challenges. The implementation of various spatial interpolation methods results in significant variations from the true spatial distribution of water quality in a specific location. The aim of this research is to improve mapping prediction capabilities of spatial interpolation algorithms by using a neural network with the particle swarm optimization (NN-PSO) technique. Hybrid interpolation approaches were evaluated and compared by cross-validation using mean absolute error (MAE) and Pearson’s correlation coefficient (R). The governing interpolation techniques for the physicochemical parameters of groundwater (GW) and heavy metal concentrations were the geostatistical approaches combined with NN-PSO. The best methods for physicochemical characteristics and heavy metal concentrations were observed to have the least MAE and R values, ranging from 1.7 to 4.3 times and 1.2 to 5.6 times higher than the interpolation technique without the NN-PSO for the dry and wet season, respectively. The hybrid interpolation methods exhibit an improved performance as compared to the non-hybrid methods. The application of NN-PSO technique to spatial interpolation methods was found to be a promising approach for improving the accuracy of spatial maps for GW quality. Full article
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Article
A Method Scope Extension for the Simultaneous Analysis of POPs, Current-Use and Banned Pesticides, Rodenticides, and Pharmaceuticals in Liver. Application to Food Safety and Biomonitoring
Toxics 2021, 9(10), 238; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9100238 - 27 Sep 2021
Viewed by 426
Abstract
The screening of hundreds of substances belonging to multiple chemical classes in liver is required in areas such as food safety or biomonitoring. We adapted a previous QuEChERS-based method in blood to the liver matrix and applied to these fields of study. The [...] Read more.
The screening of hundreds of substances belonging to multiple chemical classes in liver is required in areas such as food safety or biomonitoring. We adapted a previous QuEChERS-based method in blood to the liver matrix and applied to these fields of study. The validation of the method allowed the inclusion of 351 contaminants, 80% with a LOQ < 2 ng/g. In the analysis of 42 consumer liver samples, we detected trace levels of 29 different contaminants. The most frequent and concentrated was 4,4’-DDE. POPs accounted for 66% of the compounds detected. In no case was the MRL reached for any of the contaminants detected. We also applied the method to 151 livers of wild birds to perform a biomonitoring pilot study in the Canary Islands. We detected 52 contaminants in 15 bird species. These were also mostly POPs, although high frequencies and concentrations of anticoagulant rodenticides (AR) and some other agricultural pesticides also stand out. POPs and AR contamination levels were significantly higher in terrestrial birds, raptors and particularly in nocturnal birds. Pesticide contamination levels were also higher in terrestrial birds, as well as in non-raptors and diurnal birds. The validated method is simple, robust, and sensitive and performs well in a variety of practical scenarios, where it can be carried out relatively quickly and inexpensively. Full article
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Article
Rapid Determination of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Harbour Porpoise Liver Tissue by HybridSPE®–UPLC®–MS/MS
Toxics 2021, 9(8), 183; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9080183 - 01 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1205
Abstract
A rapid hybrid solid phase extraction (HybridSPE®) protocol tailored to ultra-performance liquid chromatography–electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC®–ESI–MS/MS) analysis was developed for the determination of 15 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in liver tissue from harbour porpoises (Phocoena [...] Read more.
A rapid hybrid solid phase extraction (HybridSPE®) protocol tailored to ultra-performance liquid chromatography–electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC®–ESI–MS/MS) analysis was developed for the determination of 15 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in liver tissue from harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena). The HybridSPE® technique has been applied in trace concentration bioanalysis, but it was mainly used for liquid biological media until now. In this study, the protocol was applied on tissue matrix, and it demonstrated acceptable absolute recoveries (%) ranging from 44.4 to 89.4%. The chromatographic separation was carried out using a gradient elution program with a total run time of 4 min. The inter-day method precision ranged from 2.15 to 15.4%, and the method limits of detection (LODs) ranged from 0.003 to 0.30 ng/g wet weight (w.w.). A total of 20 liver samples were analyzed to demonstrate the applicability of the developed method in liver tissue from a wildlife species. Full article
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Article
An Integrative Approach to Assess the Environmental Impacts of Gold Mining Contamination in the Amazon
Toxics 2021, 9(7), 149; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9070149 - 26 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1509
Abstract
As the number of legal and illegal gold mining sites increases in the Andes–Amazonia region, integrative methods to evaluate the effects of mining pollution on freshwater ecosystems are of paramount importance. Here, we sampled water and sediments in 11 sites potentially affected by [...] Read more.
As the number of legal and illegal gold mining sites increases in the Andes–Amazonia region, integrative methods to evaluate the effects of mining pollution on freshwater ecosystems are of paramount importance. Here, we sampled water and sediments in 11 sites potentially affected by gold mining activities in the Napo province (Ecuador). The environmental impacts were evaluated using the following lines of evidence (LOEs): water physicochemical parameters, metal exposure concentrations, macroinvertebrate community response (AAMBI), and toxicity by conducting bioassays with Lactuca sativa and Daphnia magna. Dissolved oxygen and total suspended solids were under (<80%) and above (>130 mg/Ls) quality standards 65% of the sites. Ag, Al, As, Cd, Cu, Fe, Mn, Pb, and Zn in water and V, B, and Cr in sediments were detected above quality standards at sampled sites. Nine out of eleven sites were classified as having bad environmental quality based on the AAMBI. L. sativa seed germination in both water (37% to 70%) and sediment (0% to 65%) indicate significant toxicity. In five sites, neonates of D. magna showed a 25% reduction in survival compared to the control. Our integrated LOEs index ranked sites regarding their environmental degradation. We recommend environmental impact monitoring of the mining expansion at the Andes–Amazonia region using multiple LOEs. Full article
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Article
Nutritional Evaluation and Risk Assessment of the Exposure to Essential and Toxic Elements in Dogs and Cats through the Consumption of Pelleted Dry Food: How Important Is the Quality of the Feed?
Toxics 2021, 9(6), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9060133 - 05 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1054
Abstract
Dry feed for pets lacks specific legislation regarding maximum residue limits for inorganic elements. The aim of the present study was to determine the content of 43 inorganic elements in dog and cat feed, studying whether there were differences according to the supposed [...] Read more.
Dry feed for pets lacks specific legislation regarding maximum residue limits for inorganic elements. The aim of the present study was to determine the content of 43 inorganic elements in dog and cat feed, studying whether there were differences according to the supposed quality of the food and performing the risk assessment for health. Thirty-one and thirty packages of pelleted dry food for cats and dogs, respectively, were analyzed. After acidic microwave-assisted digestion, elements were detected and quantified by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). In general, we did not observe important differences in the content of elements according to the supposed quality of the brand. Among trace elements, selenium and manganese are above the dietary reference value. Arsenic and mercury showed the highest acute hazard indexes, which make them risk factors for the health of dogs and cats. Aluminum, uranium, antimony and vanadium contents were above the toxic reference value and showed the highest acute hazard indexes. It is necessary to improve the legislation regarding the food safety of pets, for their health and to protect the rights of consumers. Full article
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Article
Validation of a Method Scope Extension for the Analysis of POPs in Soil and Verification in Organic and Conventional Farms of the Canary Islands
Toxics 2021, 9(5), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9050101 - 02 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 857
Abstract
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are among the most relevant and dangerous contaminants in soil, from where they can be transferred to crops. Additionally, livestock animals may inadvertently consume relatively high amounts of soil attached to the roots of the vegetables while grazing, leading [...] Read more.
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are among the most relevant and dangerous contaminants in soil, from where they can be transferred to crops. Additionally, livestock animals may inadvertently consume relatively high amounts of soil attached to the roots of the vegetables while grazing, leading to indirect exposure to humans. Therefore, periodic monitoring of soils is crucial; thus, simple, robust, and powerful methods are needed. In this study, we have tested and validated an easy QuEChERS-based method for the extraction of 49 POPs (8 PBDEs, 12 OCPs, 11 PAHs, and 18 PCBs) in soils and their analysis by GC-MS/MS. The method was validated in terms of linearity, precision, and accuracy, and a matrix effect study was performed. The limits of detection (LOD) were established between 0.048 and 3.125 ng g−1 and the limits of quantification (LOQ) were between 0.5 and 20 ng g−1, except for naphthalene (50 ng g−1). Then, to verify the applicability of the validated method, we applied it to a series of 81 soil samples from farms dedicated to mixed vegetable cultivation and vineyards in the Canary Islands, both from two modes of production (organic vs. conventional) where residues of OCPs, PCBs, and PAHs were found. Full article
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Article
Transition Metals in Freshwater Crustaceans, Tilapia, and Inland Water: Hazardous to the Population of the Small Island Province
Toxics 2021, 9(4), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9040071 - 01 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1028
Abstract
This paper elaborates on the potential toxicants detected in inland water, freshwater crustaceans, and tilapia in an island that experienced mining disasters in 1993 and 1996. Specimen samples were collected in six municipalities of the island province in 2019 and presence of metals [...] Read more.
This paper elaborates on the potential toxicants detected in inland water, freshwater crustaceans, and tilapia in an island that experienced mining disasters in 1993 and 1996. Specimen samples were collected in six municipalities of the island province in 2019 and presence of metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn) were analyzed using Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES). Potential ecological risks analysis followed the Hakanson approach. Canonical correspondence analysis PAST Version 3.22, IBM SPSS 25.0, and Pearson correlation were employed for statistical analysis, and GIS Pro 2.5 for mapping of sampling locations and spatial distribution. Results showed that Mn and Zn concentration was highest in surface water (SW) and groundwater (GW), respectively. All metal concentration values exceeded the maximum permissible limit by regulatory international organizations. Elevated concentration of Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn was detected in both crustaceans and tilapia. The calculated health hazard indices were greater than one, which means potential high adverse effects on public health when ingested. The municipality of Sta. Cruz and Torrijos recorded higher potential ecological risk among the six municipalities. Results of the correlation analysis suggested that metals in SW and GW have a similar origin, mutual dependence, and identical behavior during transport. Full article
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Article
Deriving Soil Quality Criteria of Chromium Based on Species Sensitivity Distribution Methodology
Toxics 2021, 9(3), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9030058 - 16 Mar 2021
Viewed by 604
Abstract
Chromium (Cr) is one of the most severe heavy metal contaminants in soil, and it seriously threatens ecosystems and human health through the food chain. It is fundamental to collect toxicity data of Cr before developing soil quality criteria/standards in order to efficiently [...] Read more.
Chromium (Cr) is one of the most severe heavy metal contaminants in soil, and it seriously threatens ecosystems and human health through the food chain. It is fundamental to collect toxicity data of Cr before developing soil quality criteria/standards in order to efficiently prevent health risks. In this work, the short-term toxic effects of Cr(VI) and Cr(III) on the root growth of eleven terrestrial plants were investigated. The corresponding fifth percentile hazardous concentrations (HC5) by the best fitting species sensitivity distribution (SSD) curves based on the tenth percentile effect concentrations (EC10) were determined to be 0.60 and 4.51 mg/kg for Cr (VI) and Cr (III), respectively. Compared to the screening level values worldwide, the HC5 values in this study were higher for Cr(VI) and lower for Cr(III) to some extent. The results provide useful toxicity data for deriving national or local soil quality criteria for trivalent and hexavalent Cr. Full article
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Article
Exposure to Triclosan and Bisphenol Analogues B, F, P, S and Z in Repeated Duplicate-Diet Solid Food Samples of Adults
Toxics 2021, 9(3), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9030047 - 03 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 827
Abstract
Triclosan (TCS) and bisphenol analogues are used in a variety of consumer goods. Few data exist on the temporal exposures of adults to these phenolic compounds in their everyday diets. The objectives were to determine the levels of TCS and five bisphenol analogues [...] Read more.
Triclosan (TCS) and bisphenol analogues are used in a variety of consumer goods. Few data exist on the temporal exposures of adults to these phenolic compounds in their everyday diets. The objectives were to determine the levels of TCS and five bisphenol analogues (BPB, BPF, BPP, BPS, and BPZ) in duplicate-diet solid food (DDSF) samples of adults and to estimate maximum dietary exposures and intake doses per phenol. Fifty adults collected 776 DDSF samples over a six-week monitoring period in North Carolina in 2009–2011. The levels of the target phenols were concurrently quantified in the DDSF samples using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. TCS (59%), BPS (32%), and BPZ (28%) were most often detected in the samples. BPB, BPF, and BPP were all detected in <16% of the samples. In addition, 82% of the total samples contained at least one target phenol. The highest measured concentration of 394 ng/g occurred for TCS in the food samples. The adults’ maximum 24-h dietary intake doses per phenol ranged from 17.5 ng/kg/day (BPB) to 1600 ng/kg/day (TCS). An oral reference dose (300,000 ng/kg/day) is currently available for only TCS, and the adult’s maximum dietary intake dose was well below a level of concern. Full article
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Article
First Assessment of Plasticizers in Marine Coastal Litter-Feeder Fauna in the Mediterranean Sea
Toxics 2021, 9(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9020031 - 04 Feb 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1275
Abstract
Micro and nanoplastics are harmful to marine life due to their high level of fragmentation and resistance to degradation. Over the past two decades, marine coastal sediment has shown an increasing amount of microplastics being a sort of trap for debris wastes or [...] Read more.
Micro and nanoplastics are harmful to marine life due to their high level of fragmentation and resistance to degradation. Over the past two decades, marine coastal sediment has shown an increasing amount of microplastics being a sort of trap for debris wastes or chemicals. In such an environment some species may be successful candidates to be used as monitors of environmental and health hazards and can be considered a mirror of threats of natural habitats. Such species play a key role in the food web of littoral systems since they are litter-feeders, and are prey for fishes or higher trophic level species. A preliminary investigation was conducted on five species of small-sized amphipod crustaceans, with the aim to understand if such an animal group may reflect the risk to ecosystems health in the central Mediterranean area, recently investigated for seawater and fish contamination. This study intended to gather data related to the accumulation of plasticizers in such coast dwelling fauna. In order to detect the possible presence of xenobiotics in amphipods, six analytes were scored (phthalic acid esters and non-phthalate plasticizers), identified and quantified by the gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) method. The results showed that among all the monitored contaminants, DEP and DiBP represented the most abundant compounds in the selected amphipods. The amphipod crustaceans analyzed were a good tool to detect and monitor plasticizers, and further studies of these invertebrates will help in developing a more comprehensive knowledge of chemicals spreading over a geographical area. The results are herein presented as a starting point to develop baseline data of plasticizer pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. Full article
Article
Hunting for Toxic Industrial Chemicals: Real-Time Detection of Carbon Disulfide Traces by Means of Ion Mobility Spectrometry
Toxics 2020, 8(4), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8040121 - 14 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 737
Abstract
Sensitive real-time detection of vapors produced by toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) represents a stringent priority nowadays. Carbon disulfide (CS2) is such a chemical, being widely used in manufacturing synthetic textile fibers and as a solvent. CS2 is simultaneously a very [...] Read more.
Sensitive real-time detection of vapors produced by toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) represents a stringent priority nowadays. Carbon disulfide (CS2) is such a chemical, being widely used in manufacturing synthetic textile fibers and as a solvent. CS2 is simultaneously a very reactive, highly flammable, irritant, corrosive, and highly toxic compound, affecting the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, eyes, kidneys, liver, skin, and reproductive system. This study was directed towards quick detection and quantification of CS2 in air, using time-of-flight ion mobility spectrometry (IMS); photoionization detection (PID) was also used as confirmatory technique. Results obtained indicated that IMS can detect CS2 at trace levels in air. The ion mobility spectrometric response was in the negative ion mode and presented one product ion, at a reduced ion mobility (K0) of 2.25 cm2 V−1 s−1. Our study demonstrated that by using a portable, commercial IMS system (model Mini IMS, I.U.T. GmbH Berlin Germany) one can easily measure CS2 at concentrations of 0.1 ppmv (0.3 mg m−3) in the negative ion mode, which is below the lowest threshold value of 1 ppmv given for industrial hygiene. A limit of detection (LOD) of ca. 30 ppbv (0.1 mg m−3) was also estimated. Full article
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Article
Evaluation of Soil and Ambient Air Pollution Around Un-reclaimed Mining Bodies in Nižná Slaná (Slovakia) Post-Mining Area
Toxics 2020, 8(4), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8040096 - 29 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 840
Abstract
Thirty soil samples were taken, and the same number of moss (Dicranum scoparium) and lichen (Pseudevernia furfuracea) bags were exposed to detect environmental pollution in the former mining area Nižná Slaná. Soil and ambient air are influenced by hazardous [...] Read more.
Thirty soil samples were taken, and the same number of moss (Dicranum scoparium) and lichen (Pseudevernia furfuracea) bags were exposed to detect environmental pollution in the former mining area Nižná Slaná. Soil and ambient air are influenced by hazardous substances, which leak from old mining bodies due to insufficient or completely missing reclamation. The total content of the risk elements (As, Cd, Co, Cu, Fe, Hg, Mn, Ni, Sb, Se, Pb, Zn) was determined in soil, moss, and lichen samples and in the bodies of Leccinum pseudoscabrum. Biological (soil enzymes—urease, acid phosphatase, alkaline phosphatase, fluorescein diacetate (FDA), ß-glucosidase) and chemical properties (pH) were determined in soil samples. Contamination factor (Cf), degree of contamination (Cd), pollution load index (PLI), and enrichment factor (EF) were used for soil and relative accumulation factor (RAF) for air quality evaluation. Contamination factor values show serious pollution by Cd, Fe, Hg, and Mn. Pollution load index confirmed extremely high pollution almost at all evaluated areas. Soil enzymes reacted to soil pollution mostly by decreasing their activity. Mosses and lichens show differences in the accumulation abilities of individual elements. Regular consumption of L. pseudoscabrum would provide the dose of Cd and Hg below the limit of provisional weekly intake. Based on the bioaccumulation index (BAF) values, L. pseudoscabrum can be characterized as an Hg accumulator. Full article
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