Biomonitoring of air quality employing in situ Ramalina celastri in Argentina
The lichen Ramalina celastri was employed as an in situ biomonitor for the study of air quality and heavy metal distribution in the central region of the Argentine Republic. The thallus content of copper, iron, manganese, cobalt, zinc, nickel and lead was determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Pigments, hydroperoxy conjugated dienes, malondialdehyde and sulfur were also measured. Some of these parameters were used to calculate a pollution index. Geographical distribution patterns were obtained for the different metals by mapping. Thus, zinc shows high levels in industrial and agricultural zones. The highest nickel values were found in urban-industrial zones located at the centre and south of the study area. The same was observed for sulfur. The pollution index distribution map showed that major physiological damage in the biomonitor was found in central and southeastern areas that coincide with Cordoba City and agricultural zones. So, the effect would seem to be related to urban activities and the use of pesticides.
Keywords: Argentina, biomonitoring, heavy metals, malondialdehyde, pigments, pollution index, Ramalina celastri, nickel, sulfur, air quality, air pollution