Assessment of trace metal air pollution in Paris using slurry-TXRF analysis on cemetery mosses

Marco Natali, Augusto Zanella, Aleksandar Rankovic, Damien Banas, Chiara Cantaluppi, Luc Abbadie, Jean Christophe Lata

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Mosses are useful, ubiquitous accumulation biomonitors and as such can be used for biomonitoring surveys. However, the biomonitoring of atmospheric pollution can be compromised in urban contexts if the targeted biomonitors are regularly disturbed, irregularly distributed, or are difficult to access. Here, we test the hypothesis that cemeteries are appropriate moss sampling sites for the evaluation of air pollution in urban areas. We sampled mosses growing on gravestones in 21 urban and peri-urban cemeteries in the Paris metropolitan area. We focused on Grimmia pulvinata (Hedwig) Smith, a species abundantly found in all studied cemeteries and very common in Europe. The concentration of Al, As, Br, Ca, Ce, Cl, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Mn, Ni, V, P, Pb, Rb, S, Sr, Ti, and Zn was determined by a total reflection X-ray fluorescence technique coupled with a slurry sampling method (slurry-TXRF). This method avoids a digestion step, reduces the risk of sample contamination, and works even at low sample quantities. Elemental markers of road traffic indicated that the highest polluted cemeteries were located near the highly frequented Parisian ring road and under the influence of prevailing winds. The sites with the lowest pollution were found not only in the peri-urban cemeteries, adjoining forest or farming landscapes, but also in the large and relatively wooded cemeteries located in the center of Paris. Our results suggest that (1) slurry-TXRF might be successfully used with moss material, (2) G. pulvinata might be a good biomonitor of trace metals air pollution in urban context, and (3) cemetery moss sampling could be a useful complement for monitoring urban areas. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)23496-23510
    Number of pages15
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
    Issue number23
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


    • Air pollution
    • Biological indicator
    • Cemeteries
    • Grimmia pulvinata
    • Total reflection X-ray fluorescence
    • Trace metals
    • Urban areas

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Chemistry
    • Pollution
    • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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