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The aim of this study was to perform a complex assessment of changes in the elements of an ecosystem that are caused by environmental pollution in industrial and urban biotopes. The study focused on three sites: a park, a road and the site of the metallurgical plant “Pokój” in the city of Ruda Śląska (Southern Poland), which are each under a different level of anthropogenic load. Soil and plant material samples (Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata leaves) were investigated by performing biochemical, ecophysiological and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analyses. A significant difference was observed in all of the study samples. The content of Pb, Zn and Cd in the soil samples that had been collected at the site of the metallurgical plant exceeded the permitted limits (Cd > 4 mg kg⁻¹, Pb > 100 mg kg⁻¹, Zn > 300 mg kg⁻¹). The content of Fe, Mn, Pb, Cd and Zn in the plant material was much higher in unwashed samples than in washed samples. The concentrations of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) were below the permitted level in the leaves of Plantago lanceolata for Cd (> 5 mg kg⁻¹) and in the leaves of Plantago major for Zn (> 100 mg kg⁻¹). The SEM observations revealed a significant decrease in the stomata pore length (SPL) in the Plantago lanceolata leaves that had been collected at the road site compared with the plants from the park site. The elemental content on the leaf surface was also determined using X-ray microanalysis. The total chlorophyll (Chl) content, ascorbic acid (AA), proline, guaiacol peroxidase (GPX) activity, pH, relative water content (RWC) and air pollution tolerance index (APTI) were evaluated. The APTI for the investigated species ranged from 5.6 to 7.4, which demonstrated that the studied plant species are sensitive to air pollutants.
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RESEARCH ARTICLE
Using Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata in environmental
pollution research in an urban area of Southern Poland
Iryna Skrynetska
1
&Jagna Karcz
2
&Gabriela Barczyk
1
&Marta Kandziora-Ciupa
1
&Ryszard Ciepał
1
&
Aleksandra Nadgórska-Socha
1
Received: 17 December 2018 /Accepted: 21 May 2019 /Published online: 14 June 2019
#The Author(s) 2019
Abstract
The aim of this study was to perform a complex assessment of changes in the elements of an ecosystem that are caused by
environmental pollution in industrial and urban biotopes. The study focused on three sites: a park, a road and the site of the
metallurgical plant Pokójin the city of Ruda Śląska (Southern Poland), which are each under a different level of anthropogenic
load. Soil and plant material samples (Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata leaves) were investigated by performing
biochemical, ecophysiological and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analyses. A significant difference was observed in all
of the study samples. The content of Pb, Zn and Cd in the soil samples that had been collected at the site of the metallurgical plant
exceeded the permitted limits (Cd > 4 mg kg
1
, Pb > 100 mg kg
1
, Zn > 300 mg kg
1
). The content of Fe, Mn, Pb, Cd and Zn in
the plant material was much higher in unwashed samples than in washed samples. The concentrations of potentially toxic
elements (PTEs) were below the permitted level in the leaves of Plantago lanceolata for Cd (> 5 mg kg
1
) and in the leaves
of Plantago major for Zn (> 100 mg kg
1
). The SEM observations revealed a significant decrease in the stomata pore length
(SPL) in the Plantago lanceolata leaves that had been collected at the road site compared with the plants from the park site. The
elemental content on the leaf surface was also determined using X-ray microanalysis. The total chlorophyll (Chl) content,
ascorbic acid (AA), proline, guaiacol peroxidase (GPX) activity, pH, relative water content (RWC) and air pollution tolerance
index (APTI) were evaluated. The APTI for the investigated species ranged from 5.6 to 7.4, which demonstrated that the studied
plant species are sensitive to air pollutants.
Keywords SEM-EDX .APTI .Potentially toxic metals (PTMs) .Plantago .Soil pollution
Abbreviations
AA Ascorbic acid
APTI Air pollution tolerance index
Chl Total chlorophyll
GPX Guaiacol peroxidase
RWC Relative water content
SEM Scanning electron microscopy
SEM-EDX Scanning electron microscopy with
energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy
SPL Stomata pore length
Introduction
Over the last several decades, the quality of the environment
has undergone a significant deterioration, which was primarily
due to rapid developments in industry as well as urbanisation.
Environmental pollution has become a factor that is responsi-
ble for many negative effects on the health of fauna and flora
as well as on the ecosystem as a whole because of potentially
toxic metals that do not degrade and accumulate in the envi-
ronment, most of which have long-term toxic effects on living
Responsible editor: Roberto Terzano
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article
(https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-019-05535-x) contains supplementary
material, which is available to authorized users.
*Iryna Skrynetska
i.skrynetska@gmail.com
1
Department of Ecology, Faculty of Biology and Environmental
Protection, University of Silesia, Bankowa 9,
40-007 Katowice, Poland
2
Scanning Electron Microscopy Laboratory, Faculty of Biology and
Environmental Protection, University of Silesia, Jagiellońska 28,
40-032 Katowice, Poland
Environmental Science and Pollution Research (2019) 26:2335923371
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-019-05535-x
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
organisms (Kardel et al. 2010; Remon et al. 2013;Muszyńska
et al. 2018). However, the effects of this interaction on the
function and structure of the elements of an urban ecosystem
have not yet been adequately quantified and are poorly
understood.
In flora, the epidermis is the first site of interaction with
atmospheric pollution because pollutants first pass through the
stomata of the epidermal tissues. The stomata, which regulate
the flow of gases entering into or escaping out of leaves, are an
excellent site to study the interaction between plants and their
environment because they are the first to be affected by air
pollution, which may cause changes in their morphology
(Robinson et al. 1998; Kardel et al. 2010; Uka et al. 2017).
There are many different biochemical and physiological
mechanisms that help plants adapt to pollutants, and their
efficiency can be assessed by a number of parameters such
as the total chlorophyll (Chl) content, ascorbic acid (AA) con-
tent, pH and relative water content (RWC). All of these index-
es make up the so-called air pollution tolerance index (APTI).
The value of the APTI defines a plants tolerance to pollution
because these parameters determine a plantsadaptationtothe
environment and thus predetermine the sensitivity or resis-
tance of a species to pollution (Lakshmi et al. 2008;
Prajapati and Tripathi 2008). Additionally, a biochemical as-
sessment of variations in metabolites could be helpful in de-
fining the tolerance of a species. Proline accumulation is
regarded as an indicator of heavy metal stress and enzymatic
antioxidant components such as GPX may be used as an in-
dicator of environmental stress for an ecosystem (Kandziora-
Ciupa et al. 2017; Nadgórska-Socha et al. 2017).
The aim of this study was to perform a complex assessment
of changes in the elements of an ecosystem that are caused by
environmental pollution in industrial and urban biotopes. Two
ruderal species, Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata,
were selected for this study. The Plantago species has been
used as a traditional medicinal plant in many parts of the world
for centuries (Abd El-Gawad et al. 2015; Gomes de Andrade
et al. 2018). Plantago lanceolata and Plantago major are easy
to recognize and are very common in urban environments and
in the countryside. Previous studies have indicated that the
Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata species contain sig-
nificant levels of trace elements (Tinkov et al. 2016;
Nadgórska-Socha et al. 2017; Skrynetska et al. 2018).
The objective of this study was to perform a comparative
analysis of selected ecophysiological and biochemical param-
eters and to determine the metal concentrations in soils and
plants in samples that had been collected from three areas with
different levels of the anthropogenic load. The data obtained
enabled us to observe any differences in the morphology and
physiological parameters, to analyse the air pollution tolerance
indexes and toassess the potential use of the tested species as a
bioindicator in an urban biotope. The tolerance of these plants
to metal toxicity was established in order to determine their
possible application in soil phytostabilisation and revegetation
in industrial areas that have been contaminated with potential-
ly toxic metals (Serbula et al. 2012; Nadgórska-Socha et al.
2013; Romeh et al. 2016). These results may be useful in
evaluating the adaptive properties of these plants to harsh
environmental conditions as well as their use in ecological
risk assessment (Djingova et al. 2004; Przedpełska and
Wierzbicka 2007;Słomka et al. 2008).
The following hypotheses were evaluated:
Metal pollution contributes to changes in the ecophysio-
logical and morphological properties of selected species
within polluted sites compared with plants from a non-
contaminated area.
Plantago species may be useful biological indicators for
industrialised urban areas.
Material and methods
Study area
The investigated areas represented a variety of habitats (green
belts, squares, lawns and park) with ruderal and invasive spe-
cies such as Robinia pseudoacacia,Solidago canadensis and
Reynoutria japonica. Ruderal species were represented by
Taraxacum officinale,Achillea millefolium,Bellis perennis,
Trifolium repens,Poa annua,Medicago lupulina and others.
The study sites were located in the city of Ruda Śląska
(Upper Silesian Industrial District, Southern Poland). For the
study, three locations were selected: a road (50°1517.9N,
18°5117.1E), a metallurgical plant (50°1730.5N, 18°52
25.7E) and a park (50°1628.4N, 18°5012.8E) (Fig. 1).
The StrzelnicaPark is a recreational and leisure area and
is considered to be a potentially cleanarea. The road is the
intersection of the A4 expressway and the provincial road 925,
which has intensive road traffic. The metallurgical plant
Pokój,where steel products are produced and distributed,
is a site with a high level of environmental pollution.
Soil and plant material collection
Soil samples were taken from the top layer at 010 cm depth
from five locations at each site. The samples were collected
during the vegetation season in late June and early July 2016.
The soil and plant material samples were collected in five
replicates at each site (i.e. a total of 15 soil samples and 15
plant material samples).
Plant materials from herbaceous lawns were selected:
greater plantain (Plantago major) and narrow leaf plantain
(Plantago lanceolata), which are species of Plantago,family
Plantaginaceae. These two ruderal species are common and
23360 Environ Sci Pollut Res (2019) 26:2335923371
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
widespread and are also well known as good biological indi-
cators (Kurteva 2009, Nadgórska-Socha et al. 2013, Romeh
et al. 2016, Giacomino et al. 2016). The plant material for the
biochemical analysis was frozen immediately after collection
and kept frozen until the analysis.
Scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive
X-ray spectroscopy analysis
SEM was used to investigate the micromorphology of the leaf
surfaces and stomata size. Leaves from plants of about the
same age were taken randomly. Small pieces of fresh leaves
near the central nerve (0.5 × 1 cm
2
) were cut from the same
area of the leaf lamina, fixed in 3% glutaraldehyde in a 0.1 M
sodium phosphate buffer, washed three times with the same
buffer and then dehydrated with ethanol. In the next step, the
samples were critical-point dried in a Pelco CPD2 apparatus
(Ted Pella Inc., Redding, CA, USA) and then mounted on
aluminium stubs with double-sided adhesive carbon tape
and at lastly sputter coated in a Pelco SC-6 sputter coater
(Ted Pella Inc.) with a 20 nm layer of gold in order to improve
the electrical conductivity properties of the samples. All spec-
imens were imaged using a field emission scanning electron
microscope (Hitachi SU8010 FESEM; Hitachi High-
Technologies Corporation, Tokyo, Japan), which was
equipped with a secondary electron detector (ESD). The
working conditions were 5 kVor 15 kV accelerating voltages,
a working distance (WD) ranging from 8 to 25 mm.
Energy-dispersive X-ray microanalysis (EDX) with a de-
tection limit of 0.1% of weight and beam penetration of 2
5μm was used to identify the elemental content on the leaf
surface using dry plant material that had not been fixed in GA.
The parts of the leaves were mounted on aluminium stubs with
double-sided adhesive carbon tape and sputter coated with
gold. The specimens were examined using a field emission
scanning electron microscope (FESEM) and a Thermo
Scientific NORAN System 7 energy-dispersive spectrometer
(Thermo Fisher Scientific, Madison, WI, USA). Background
and element specific peak spectra were analysed with NSS 3
X-ray Microanalysis software (Thermo Fisher Scientific).
SEM mode microanalysis was carried out at a 15-kV acceler-
ation and the acquisition time was set to 60 s. Analyses were
performed at × 500× 1100 magnifications on 15pointsof
ten randomly selected pieces of the leaves from all of the
investigated sites.
Metal content analysis
The metal content of the soil was determined as pseudo-total
HNO
3
extractable fraction as was described in detail by
Zheljazkov and Nielsen (1996). Additionally, metals were al-
so extracted from the soil samples with 0.01 M CaCl
2
(poten-
tially available elements) according to Wójcik et al. (2014).
Fig. 1 Location of the study sites in Ruda Śląska: the road (expressway A4); the site of the metallurgical plant Pokójand StrzelnicaPark
Environ Sci Pollut Res (2019) 26:2335923371 23361
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
The metal content was measured in the filtered extracts using
atomic absorption spectroscopy (Thermo Fisher Scientific
iCE 3500).
Soil pH was determined using a standard method
(Ostrowska et al. 1991) using a 1:2.5 soil to water ratio.
Organic matter content (expressed in %) was estimated fol-
lowing the method of Ostrowska et al. (1991).
The content of trace elements in the plants was measured
using atomic absorption spectrometry (Thermo Fisher
Scientific iCE 3500). The plant samples were divided into
two groups and analysed as washedand unwashedsam-
ples. The washedplants were thoroughly washed with dis-
tilled water in an ultrasonic bath (ULTRON, Olsztyn, Poland)
for 10 min at 20 °C to remove any dust deposits and then
rinsed twice with distilled water. The plant samples were dried
at 105 °C and then ground in a stainless steel mill; then, 0.25 g
of the samples was wet digested in concentrated HNO
3
at a
maximum of 120 °C and finally diluted to 25 ml with
deionised water (Lin et al. 2008).
Biochemical analyses
Root viability was determined by measuring the GPX activity
according to Fang and Kao (2000). Proline accumulation in
the leaves was determined using the acid ninhydrin method
(Bates et al. 1973). The RWC for the plant samples was de-
termined according to Pathak et al. (2011). The pH value of
the leaves was determined using a pH meter after
homogenising 5 g f.w. of the leaves in 10 ml deionised water
(Nadgórska-Socha et al. 2017). The content of total chloro-
phyll in the samples was quantitatively determined (Prajapati
and Tripathi 2008) in accordance with Arnon (1949). The
quantitative determination of ascorbic acid was performed ac-
cording to Keller and Schwanger (1977) and as described in
detail in Nadgórska-Socha et al. (2016).
The calculation of the air pollution tolerance index enables
the degree of a plants tolerance to environmental pollution to
be defined. The APTI was calculated according to Prajapati
and Tripathis(2008)formula:
APTI ¼ATþPðÞþR
10
where A is the ascorbic acid content (mg g
1
fresh weight); T
is the total leaf chlorophyll content (mg g
1
fresh weight); P is
the pH of leaf extract; R is the relative water content (%).
According to Singh and Rao (1983), plants with APTI < 10
are sensitive; 10 < APTI < 16 are medium sensitive and
APTI > 17 are resistant to air pollution.
Extra material about the methodology that was used is in-
cluded in the supplementary material (Online Resource 1).
Statistical analyses
All of the statistical calculations were performed using
Statistica version 13 (StatSoft Inc., Tulsa, OK, USA). The
observations were replicated five times for each parameter.
The mean standard error was also calculated. Significant sta-
tistical differences were estimated using Tukeys test. The
Pearson coefficient of correlation for assessing estimated pa-
rameters was also calculated. Analysis of variance (ANOVA)
helped to determine the variables that were significantly dif-
ferent among the soil and plant materials.
Results and discussion
Soil analysis
Soil pollution, particularly due to potentially toxic metal con-
tamination, has been widely investigated by researchers
around the world as one of the major environmental problems
that can affect plant productivity, the environment and human
health (Ross 1994;Alloway1997; Kabata-Pendias and
Pendias 2001; Kandziora-Ciupa et al. 2016). Previous soil
metal accumulation researches that have been conducted in
the urban areas of Upper Silesia (Miasteczko Śląskie,
Chorzów, Piekary Śląskie, Sosnowiec, Dąbrowa Górnicza)
have also reported excessive concentrations of Pb, Cd and
Zn especially in soil samples that had been collected from
areas near metallurgical plants (Nadgórska-Socha et al.
2013,2016; Kandziora-Ciupa et al. 2013; Dziubanek et al.
2015; Skrynetska et al. 2018). Most of these studies were
based on the fractions of the extracted elements. According
to Zheljazkov et al. (2008), while the pseudo-total or HNO
3
extractable soil metal concentrations are important, the phyto-
available forms of specific metals in the soil are the ones to
which plant roots are actually exposed. Amoakwah et al.
(2013) noted that CaCl
2
mobilises both Cd and Zn because
of the combined effect of complexation by the chloride anion
and cation exchange.
Taking into consideration both points, in our study, we
elected to use both methods of metal extraction. According
to the Regulation by the Minister of Environment (2002), the
metal concentrations in the soil pseudo-total fraction, particu-
larly cadmium, lead and zinc, exceeded the permissible con-
centrations at the site of the metallurgical plant site
(4 mg kg
1
, 100 mg kg
1
and 300 mg kg
1
, respectively).
The potentially toxic elements are usually extracted to a great-
er extent using HNO
3
extraction rather than CaCl
2
extraction,
which was confirmed by our study. In most cases, the poten-
tially bioavailable toxic metal content was below 1% of the
estimated content of the elements in the soil fraction that had
been extracted using HNO
3
.IntheCaCl
2
extracted concentra-
tions, the highest content of Mn, Zn and Cd was recorded at
23362 Environ Sci Pollut Res (2019) 26:2335923371
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
the park, which may be connected with low pH. By contrast,
the CaCl
2
extracted fraction had a comparable level of lead
with an average of 0.5 mg kg
1
and iron content with an
average 0.4 mg kg
1
for all of the investigated sites
(Table 1). Our results are similar to a study in the nearby
Miasteczko Śląskie, Poland (Nadgórska-Socha et al. 2016).
According to Meers et al. (2007), the 0.01 M CaCl
2
extraction
procedure proved to be the most versatile because it provided
a good indication of phytoavailability.
The results that were obtained from the investigated loca-
tions provide clear information about the impact of pollution
on a natural environment that is under pressure from
industrialisation and urbanisation. Soils in a city are
characterised by a high level of acidity and show a high level
of mechanical damage as a result of human activity. Despite
this, in our study, the pH of the surface soils at the road and the
site of the metallurgical plant were nearly neutral, thus
confirming the efficiency of the revitalisation programmes
that began in 2015 (The Local Revitalisation Programme of
the City of Ruda Śląska until 2030 (2015)). The study of the
selected sites showed that the average level of organic matter
was 9%. The lowest content was found at the road (Table 1).
Analysis of plant material
SEM observation
Accumulation of particles on surface of leaves depends on
physico-chemical nature of the particulates and the charac-
teristics of the contact surface (Bussotti et al. 1995;Liang
et al. 2017). The interaction between plants and the atmo-
sphere occurs mainly via the stomata and therefore can be
considered to be an air quality indicator. A study of the
stomatal characteristics is an inexpensive and easy way to
obtain relevant results (Kardel et al. 2010).
A preliminary examination of the leaves was performed
using light microscopy. Plantago major leaves have a
blunt apex, 39 nerves, are sometimes slightly serrated, a
naked or slightly hairy surface and a round shape. The
leaves of Plantago lanceolata havealanceolataorelliptic
shape. Its leaf blade is usually full and rarely has a few
serrations. In both of the investigated species, the abaxial
surface of the leaves is lighter than the adaxial surface. No
epicuticular waxes were present on the surfaces of the
leaves. Fine deposits with irregular shapes and of different
sizes were seen on the surfaces of the leaves in a polluted
environment (the area near the road and the site of the
metallurgical plant) (Fig. 2b,c,e,andf). At the road, the
stomata were mostly closed and blocked by dust (Fig.
2b, e). Single trichomes were rarely observed on surfaces
of the leaves from all of the investigated sites (Fig. 2b, c,
and f).
Amphistomatous leaves and stomata occurred on both
sides of the leaves in all of the Plantago lanceolata and
Plantago major plants that were observed. The study of the
micromorphology and anatomy of the Plantago lanceolata
leaves using SEM revealed differences in the SPL in the
area that has heavy traffic and near the site of the metal-
lurgical plant compared with the park. The highest SPL
values were found in the Plantago lanceolata (24.04 ±
1.26 μm) leaves at the park. Despite the fact that the SPL
values in the leaves of Plantago major were much lower at
the park (16.5 ± 0.75 μm), the lowest values for Plantago
lanceolata (13.58 ± 0.95 μm) and for Plantago major
(14.53 ± 0.65 μm) were recorded at the road. At the site
of the metallurgical plant, the average SPL was 16.4 ±
0.91 μm and 18.23 ± 0.6 μmforPlantago lanceolata and
Plantago major, respectively. The leaves of Plantago
major had a comparable SPL at all of the investigated sites.
A strong positive correlation was observed between the
SPL and RWC, total chlorophyll content and APTI (r
2
=
0.7, r
2
=0.55 and r
2
= 0.7, respectively) and a negative
correlation was observed between the SPL and ascorbic
acid and proline content (r
2
=0.58 and r
2
=0.81, re-
spectively). No correlation was observed between the
SPL and metal content in either the washed or unwashed
plant samples.
Wagoner (1975) reported no differences in the size of
the stomata between polluted and unpolluted sites. Alves
et al. (2008) described that an increase in stomatal density
together with a decrease in stomatal size leads to an opti-
mal adjustment for the control of gas exchange and the
Table 1 Analysis of the soil samples.
Stand Extraction Mn (mg kg
1
)Fe(mgkg
1
)Pb(mgkg
1
)Cd(mgkg
1
)Zn(mgkg
1
)Organicmatter(%)pH
Road HNO
3
236 ± 68
a
6198 ± 1124
a
34.7 ± 2.4
a
0.7 ± 0.1
a
133 ± 5
a
6.0 ± 0.1
a
7.0 ± 0.3
b
CaCl
2
0.8 ± 0.2
a
0.3 ± 0.1
a
0.5 ± 0.1
a
0.1 ± 0.0
a
0.1 ± 0.0
a
Park HNO
3
820 ± 41
b
8765 ± 342
bc
51.2 ± 6.5
a
2.1 ± 0.1
b
237 ± 17
a
8.1 ± 0.1
b
5.5 ± 0.1
a
CaCl
2
27 ± 4
ab
0.4 ± 0.1
a
0.5 ± 0.1
a
0.5 ± 0.0
b
15 ± 1
b
Metallurgical plant HNO
3
596 ± 40
a
42,320 ± 1678
c
693 ± 63
b
7.2 ± 0.6
c
2222 ± 228
b
13.0 ± 0.1
bc
7.2 ± 0.6
c
CaCl
2
0.9 ± 0.1
a
0.4 ± 0.1
a
0.6 ± 0.1
a
0.1 ± 0.0
a
0.5 ± 0.1
a
Data is expressed as the mean ± SD. The different letters denote significant differences between specific metal concentrations in the fraction that had been
extracted with HNO
3
and CaCl
2
, organic matter content, and pH (p<0.05)
Environ Sci Pollut Res (2019) 26:2335923371 23363
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
entrance of pollutants through the stomata. Moreover,
Kardel et al. (2010) noticed a decrease in both the adaxial
and abaxial stomata sizes in the leaves of Plantago
lanceolata that acts as a mechanism for adapting to pollu-
tion stress in unsuitable habitats. The formation of smaller
stomata in the leaf epidermis of trees was also recorded in
Lublin,Poland(Chwiletal.2015).
X-ray microanalysis
Quantitative EDX analysis only provided information on the
distribution of the elements and was not sensitive in depicting
low concentrations of the elements (below the detection limit
(> 0.1% weight)). We also analysed the elemental composi-
tion of the particles on the adaxial leaf surfaces. X-ray micro-
analysis revealed the presence of Si, Fe, S, Na, Ca, Mg, Cl, O,
K and Al over the entire leaf surface sections that were exam-
ined. The results are presented as the averages of the spectra
that were obtained at the study sites (Fig. 3). The gold (Au)
signals can be considered to have originated from the sputter
coating.
The element content on the adaxial leaf surfaces from the
park was mainly represented by O, C, K, Cl, Ca and Mg (Fig.
3a, b), while at the road and the site of the metallurgical plant,
additional elements were present (Na, Al, Si and Fe) (Fig. 3c
f). The highest peaks of Si and Al were recorded at the road,
and a higher Fe content was recorded at the site of the metal-
lurgical plant, along with the presence of Mn and fungal
spores (not shown).
Almost the same elemental content was recorded on the
surfaces in Bignoniaceae family leaves that had been collected
from different areas of the Pune District, India (Kedar et al.
2018). In research conducted by Weerakkody et al. (2018)
near a busy road, the amounts of C and O, in addition to Fe
and Cl, were considerably larger compared with the other
elements in PM
10
, and Ca, K, Si, Mg and S were present in
particles of various sizes distributed on the leaves of all inves-
tigated species. According to Weerakkody et al. (2018), a high
content of C and O can also indicate the presence of carcino-
genic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, primarily from fuel
exhausts and tyre wear. Trace amounts of Ca, Ba, Mn, K, Mg
and Zn can also be present in vehicle exhausts bound to or-
ganic components (Lin et al. 2005; Sharma et al. 2013). In
addition to the dust that originates from road traffic, PM
10
containing Al, Ca, Na, Si, Cl, F and N can originate from soil
dust (Maher et al. 2013; Weerakkody et al. 2018).
Analysis of the metal content in the plant material
According to other researchers, the foliar metal uptake is
mainly due to the soilroot pathway in urban and industrial
environments (Schreck et al. 2012; Dao et al. 2014;
Kandziora-Ciupa et al. 2017). The concentrations of the ele-
ments (Fe, Mn, Pb, Cd, Zn) were investigated in both washed
and unwashed leaves of Plantago major and Plantago
lanceolata. Higher metal concentrations were found in the
unwashed samples, which was predictable as the dust on the
surfaces of leaves can also contain metals (Maher et al. 2013;
Fig. 2 Representative SEM images of the adaxial surfaces of the leaves. a
Plantago lanceolata at the park. bPlantago lanceolata at the road. c
Plantago lanceolata at the site of the metallurgical plant. dPlantago
major at the park. ePlantago major at the road. fPlantago major at the
site of the metallurgical plant
23364 Environ Sci Pollut Res (2019) 26:2335923371
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
Weerakkody et al. 2018). In the washed plant material, the
highest accumulation of Mn, Fe and Pb was recorded in the
leaves of Plantago lanceolata at the site of the metallurgical
plant (Table 2).
In the study area, the highest concentrations of Zn were
found in the unwashed samples at the site of the metallurgical
plant site for both of the species that were studied. The average
was61mgkg
1
for Plantago major and 43 mg kg
1
for
Plantago lanceolata in the washed samples, and the average
was 106 mg kg
1
for Plantago major and 88 mg kg
1
for
Plantago lanceolata in the unwashed samples (Table 2).
The iron content in the study area ranged from 51 to
391 mg kg
1
for the washed samples and from 308 to
2830 mg kg
1
for the unwashed samples. The highest concen-
trations were observed in both study species at the site of the
metallurgical plant. The Pb concentration was a few times
greater in the unwashed than in the washed plants. The highest
manganese concentration was recorded in the leaves of
Plantago major in the unwashed samples (792 mg kg
1
)at
the site of the metallurgical plant, which is eight times higher
than the concentration in the washed samples (Table 2).
Potentially toxic concentrations of Cd (> 5 mg kg
1
)were
found in all of the samples of Plantago lanceolata leaves from
Fig. 3 Selected SEM-EDX
images of Plantago leaf samples
with the chemical compositions
of the most frequently identified
elements on the adaxial surfaces.
a,bThe park. c,dThe road. e,f
The site of the metallurgical plant
Environ Sci Pollut Res (2019) 26:2335923371 23365
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
the entire study area, according to the limits reported by
Kabata-Pendias and Pendias (2001). Moreover, the permissi-
ble Cd content was exceeded in almost all of the unwashed
samples, except for the leaves of Plantago major at the road
(Table 2). Cd accumulation in edible plants has been found at
significantly lower concentrations, i.e. 0.8 to 0.1 mg kg
1
(Dziubanek et al. 2015) compared with our results. A field
study conducted by Nadgórska-Socha et al. (2017)alsore-
ported a lower metal content in Taraxacum officinale,
Plantago lanceolata,Betula pendula and Robinia
pseudoacacia leaves. Stafford et al. (2016) noted that the Cd
accumulation in Plantago lanceolata ranged from 0.44 to
0.89 mg kg
1
. In our study, the highest concentration of Zn
in the washed samples, which exceeded the permissible con-
centration 100 mg kg
1
(Kabata-Pendias and Pendias 2001),
was found in the leaves of Plantago major at the park site. By
contrast, the study conducted by Kurteva (2009)recordeda
higher Zn accumulation in the leaves of Plantago lanceolata.
Our investigation of the accumulation of potentially toxic
metals found much higher metal concentrations in the soil
and leaves of Plantago major compared with the study in
Cluj-Napoca, Romania, of Levei et al. (2018).
After averaging the data that was obtained in the measure-
ments, the concentrations of the elements in the washed sam-
ples can be ranked in the following descending order for
Plantago lanceolata:Fe>Mn>Zn>Cd>Pbandfor
Plantago major: Fe > Zn > Mn > Pb > Cd as was also record-
ed for Plantago major in Sosnowiec (Skrynetska et al. 2018).
The order of the concentrations in the unwashed samples for
both Plantago species was the same: Fe > Mn > Zn > Pb > Cd.
This fact supports the crucial point that the plant samples that
are used in biomonitoring studies must be washed.
Analysis of the biochemical parameters
To estimate the state of the environment, in addition to the
above-mentioned results, the total chlorophyll, proline,
ascorbic acid, relative water content and leaf pH were deter-
mined. The GPX activity was also analysed (Table 3).
Proline accumulation is considered to be a common phys-
iological response of many plants to environmental stress fac-
tors (Verbruggen and Hermans 2008; Tantrey and Agnihotri
2010). Moreover, researchers have found a significant amount
of proline in the reproductive parts of different plant species,
which raises the possibility that the accumulation of this ami-
no acid may also occur in non-stressed physiological condi-
tions (Mattioli et al. 2009). Numerous studies have also noted
a higher content of proline in samples from contaminated
areas compared with potentially clean sites (Tantrey and
Agnihotri 2010; Kumar et al. 2010; Kandziora-Ciupa et al.
2016; Kandziora-Ciupa et al. 2017). In our investigation, the
highest proline content was recorded at the road site for both
of the study species (Table 3). The average proline contents
for the Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata leaves were
7.8 μmol g
1
and 8.5 μmol g
1
f.w., respectively (Table 3). An
increase in the proline level during environmental contamina-
tion was also found in Philadelphus coronarius leaves by
Kafel et al. (2010) and confirmed in Taraxacum officinale,
Plantago lanceolata,Betula pendula and Robinia
pseudoacacia leaves because of urban environmental traffic
contamination by Nadgórska-Socha et al. (2017). In a field
study near the site of a smelter, a higher proline content was
also recorded in the leaves of Vaccinium murtillus (Kandziora-
Ciupa et al. 2017).
GPX activity is significant for plant growth and develop-
ment. The activity of antioxidant enzymes changes under bi-
otic and abiotic stress conditions and can be used as a potential
indicator of metal toxicity and other stress factors (Verma and
Dubey 2003;Doğanlar and Atmaca 2011; Kandziora-Ciupa
et al. 2017). According to the obtained results, a higher level
of GPX activity was recorded in the leaves of Plantago major
at the site of the metallurgical plant (1254 tetra-guaiacol
g
1
f.w.), while the lowest was recorded in the Plantago
lanceolata leaves (348 tetra-guaiacol g
1
f.w.) at the road
(Table 3). In our study, a lower GPX activity was recorded
Table 2 Analysis of the metal content in Plantago lanceolata (Pl) and Plantago major (Pm)
Mn (mg kg
1
)Fe(mgkg
1
)Pb(mgkg
1
) Cd (mg kg
1
)Zn(mgkg
1
)
Washed Unwashed Washed Unwashed Washed Unwashed Washed Unwashed Washed Unwashed
Road Pl 14 ± 1
a
41 ± 4
a
76 ± 3
a
408 ± 24
a
0.4 ± 0.1
a
4.0 ± 0.2
a
7.9 ± 0.2
de
10.0 ± 0.3
bc
16.1 ± 3.2
a
27.6 ± 2.9
a
Pm 20 ± 1
a
25 ± 3
a
90 ± 3
a
308 ± 34
a
0.9 ± 0.1
d
4.7 ± 0.2
a
0.1 ± 0.0
a
0.5 ± 0.0
a
25.3 ± 2.1
ab
33 ± 3
a
Park Pl 18 ± 2
a
46 ± 2
a
51 ± 4
a
443 ± 9
a
0.4 ± 0.0
abc
5.1 ± 0.1
a
8.4 ± 0.1
f
10.4 ± 0.3
bc
38.6 ± 3.8
b
70.8 ± 8.9
a
Pm 61 ± 3
b
84 ± 4
a
92 ± 8
a
410 ± 35
a
1.1 ± 0.0
c
3.3 ± 0.1
a
1.6 ± 0.1
c
12.2 ± 0.5
c
130 ± 6
d
138 ± 9
a
Metallurgical
plant
Pl 133 ± 6
d
307 ± 31
b
391 ± 46
b
1667 ± 110
b
9.0 ± 0.3
e
26 ± 3
b
8.0 ± 0.1
e
9.9 ± 0.4
bc
73.8 ± 5.2
c
165 ± 2
b
Pm 93 ± 8
c
792 ± 4
c
314 ± 17
b
2830 ± 139
c
0.6 ± 0.0
b
27 ± 1
b
0.8 ± 0.1
b
10.2 ± 0.6
c
27.8 ± 1.3
ab
148 ± 7
a
Data are expressed as the mean ± SD. The different letters denote significant differences between the metal concentrations in the various plants in the
washed and unwashed samples (p< 0.05).
23366 Environ Sci Pollut Res (2019) 26:2335923371
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
at the road and was positively correlated with the Fe and Mn
content in the washed samples and with Pb, Zn, Fe and Mg in
the unwashed samples. A similar dependence was also found
in studies that were conducted by Kandziora-Ciupa et al.
(2013,2017). Many authors have reported increased GPX
activity in response to elevated potentially toxic metal concen-
trations (Verma and Dubey 2003; Kafel et al. 2010;Doğanlar
and Atmaca 2011; Nadgórska-Socha et al. 2013;Marchand
et al. 2016).
Relative water content (RWC) is the level of water that is
required in plants to maintain a physiological balance (Rai and
Panda 2014). According to Krishnaveni (2013), RWC is one
of ecophysiological indicators of environmental stress in
plants. In our study, the average relative water content in the
leaves of Plantago major was nearly 64% and was nearly 67%
for Plantago lanceolata, which confirms that the selected
plants are resistant to water stress. The lowest values for both
species were observed at the road (Table 3).
The leaf pH, which is a common physiological parameter,
is also suggested to be an indicator of plant stress (Krishnaveni
et al. 2013;Hussonetal.2018). The pH of the extracts from
the leaves in the study area ranged from 4.5 to 5.6. The lowest
pH was recorded in both study species at the road. The aver-
age pH for the Plantago major leaves was 5.21, and it was
4.98 for Plantago lanceolata (Table 3). The values of the leaf
pH that were obtained were lower for both species than the
results of a field study in Sosnowiec (Poland) (Skrynetska
et al. 2018). Krishnaveni et al. (2013) also recorded a decrease
in the leaf pH values at polluted sites. By contrast, a laboratory
study conducted by Cornelissen et al. (2011)reportedthatleaf
pH is largely a species-specific trait, and therefore, the inves-
tigated species could maintain a leaf pH independently from
the soil environment. Studies conducted by Sharma et al.
(2013), Zhang et al. (2016) and Bharti et al. (2018)
emphasised that a lower leaf pH is connected with the pres-
ence of SO
x
and NO
x
in the air. This fact suggested us to
conclude that the leaf pH depends directly on air quality.
Studies on chlorophyll content are considered to be rele-
vant as its level is connected with tolerance in contaminated
environments (Pathak et al. 2011; Rai and Panda 2014;
Ogunkunle et al. 2015; Nadgórska-Socha et al. 2017). We
observed comparable results for Plantago major and
Plantago lanceolata. The average contents in the leaves of
Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata were 0.14 mg g
1
f.w. and 0.13 mg g
1
f.w., respectively (Table 3). Previous
field studies have recorded a higher total chlorophyll content
in the leaves of Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata in
Sosnowiec, Poland (Skrynetska et al. 2018) and in the leaves
of Plantago lanceolata in Dąbrowa Górnicza, Poland
(Nadgórska-Socha et al. 2017).The content of Chl can be
affected by high temperature, drought, salt stress, light inten-
sity, gaseous pollutants and potentially toxic metal contami-
nation (Pandey et al. 2015; Zhang et al. 2016).
Another important indicator of physiological condition of a
plant is the content of ascorbic acid (AA), which is a strong
reducing agent that activates many defence mechanisms in
plants, whereby increased ascorbic acid content enhances pol-
lution tolerance (Pandey et al. 2015; Zhang et al. 2016;
Nadgórska-Socha et al. 2017). Ascorbic acid is located mainly
in the chloroplast and plays an important role in the synthesis
of the cell walls, cell division and the processes that are asso-
ciated with detoxification (Ogunkunle et al. 2015). In our
study, the average AA content in the leaves of Plantago major
was 0.46 mg g
1
f.w., while for Plantago lanceolata,itwas
0.37 mg g
1
f.w. The lowest AA content was observed in the
leaves of Plantago lanceolate at the park (Table 3). A much
lower AA content was found in the leaves of Plantago major
in a field study in Sosnowiec, Poland (Skrynetska et al. 2018).
As was reported by Tripathi and Gautam (2007), an increase
in the AA content in all plant species may be due to the in-
creased rate of the production of reactive oxygen species. In a
field study conducted by Nadgórska-Socha et al. (2016), a
decreasing tendency was found in the leaves of
R. pseudoacacia, and an increase in the AA content was found
in the leaves of M. album at contaminated sites. Some studies
have also reported a high concentration of AA at industrial
sites (Agbaire and Esiefarienrhe 2009;Meerabaietal.2012;
Ogunkunle et al. 2015).
Calculating the air pollution tolerance index (APTI) en-
ables the tolerance of plants to air pollution to be determined
Table 3 Analysis of the biochemical parameters of Plantago lanceolata (Pl) and Plantago major (Pm)
GPX (μgg
1
f.w.) Proline (μmol g
1
f.w.) RWC (%) Chl (mg g
1
f.w.) pH AA (mg g
1
f.w.) APTI
Road Pl 348 ± 4
a
9.8 ± 0.5
b
60 ± 3
a
0.13 ± 0.01
ab
4.5 ± 0.1
a
0.48 ± 0.02
a
6.2 ± 0.1
b
Pm 357 ± 4
a
11.2 ± 2.2
bc
54 ± 4
a
0.09 ± 0.01
a
5.0 ± 0.2
b
0.40 ± 0.08
a
5.6 ± 0.6
a
Park Pl 572 ± 6
a
6.9 ± 0.4
ab
72 ± 4
a
0.17 ± 0.02
b
5.2 ± 0.1
bc
0.22 ± 0.04
a
7.4 ± 0.5
b
Pm 434 ± 5
a
8.3 ± 1.4
b
69 ± 3
a
0.16 ± 0.01
b
5.6 ± 0.1
c
0.51 ± 0.07
a
7.2 ± 0.4
b
Metallurgical plant Pl 581 ± 6
a
8.8 ± 0.2
b
68 ± 3
a
0.09 ± 0.01
a
5.3 ± 0.1
c
0.42 ± 0.04
a
7.0 ± 0.3
b
Pm 1254 ± 63
b
3.8 ± 0.6
a
70 ± 2
a
0.18 ± 0.01
bc
5.0 ± 0.1
bc
0.46 ± 0.08
a
7.2 ± 0.2
b
Data are expressed as the mean ± SD. The different letters denote significant differences between the contents of AA, Chl, RWC, pH, GPX, and
proline (p<0.05)
Environ Sci Pollut Res (2019) 26:2335923371 23367
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
and the biochemical parameters that are responsible for resis-
tance to environmental stress factors to be found. In our study,
Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata had a narrow range
of tolerance in the APTI index (5.6 to 7.4). It was found that
the relative APTI average of Plantago major was 6.7 while it
was 6.8 for Plantago lanceolata, thus indicating that both are
sensitive to air pollution. The road site had the lowest APTI
values for both of the study species (Table 3). According to the
classification of Singh and Rao (1983), the investigated plants
are species that are sensitive to air pollution. Low values of
APTI were also noted in both contaminated and convention-
ally clean sites in Sosnowiec, Poland (Skrynetska et al. 2018).
In Dąbrowa Górnicza, Poland, the APTI of Plantago
lanceolata was higher (8.4314.57), especially at non-
contaminated sites compared with contaminated sites
(Nadgórska-Socha et al. 2017). Another study in Southern
Poland (Miasteczko Śląskie, Katowice, Jaworzno) using
Robinia pseudoacacia and Melandrium album at potentially
toxic metal-contaminated sites recorded a mean APTI value
for all of the investigated sites at 9.4 for R. pseudoacacia and
8.7 for M. album (Nadgórska-Socha et al. 2016). Zhang et al.
(2016) identified species that are tolerant to air pollution
(Magnolia denudata,Diospyros kaki,Ailanthus altissima,
Fraxinus chinensis and Rosa chinensis), which had been col-
lected from two heavy traffic roadside sites and one suburban
site in Beijing and recommended it to be planted at locations
where there is heavy traffic. Bharti et al. 2018 estimated the
APTI of 25 plant species that were growing at the Talkatora
Industrial Area, India, and determined that Polythalia
longifolia was the species that was most sensitive to air
pollution.
A plant species with a higher APTI can be used in green
belts and should be given priority for replantation in urban and
industrial areas in order to reduce the effects of air pollution
(Sisodia and Dutta 2016;Achakzaietal.2017;Bhartietal.
2018). A plant species with a lower APTI can be recommend-
ed as a bioindicator and for environmental monitoring
(Nadgórska-Socha et al. 2016,2017;Bhartietal.2018). The
results that were obtained indicate that Plantago major and
Plantago lanceolata species can be classified as being sensi-
tive to air pollution and can be recommended for bioindicative
research in urban and industrial areas.
A clear correlation was found between the pH value and the
content of Mn and Zn (r
2
= 0.5 and r
2
= 0.87, respectively)
and between the Chl and Pb content (r
2
=0.85) in the
washed plant material. Much stronger correlations were ob-
served in the unwashed material. A correlation was found
between the dehydrogenase activity and the content of Pb,
Fe, Mn and Zn (r
2
=0.76; r
2
=0.92; r
2
=0.96 and r
2
=0.57,
respectively). Significant positive correlations were found be-
tween the RWC and Cd and Zn concentrations (r
2
=0.81;r
2
=
0.7, respectively), between the total chlorophyll and Cd con-
tent (r
2
= 0.66) and between the pH value and the content of
Zn (r
2
= 0.72). Negative correlations were observed between
proline content and the content of Pb, Fe, Zn and Cd in the
unwashed samples (r
2
=0.61; r
2
=0.76; r
2
=0.58 and
r
2
=0.56, respectively).
Although the Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata
species that were investigated demonstrated different eco-
physiological responses to environmental pollution, they can
be recommended as unified bioindicators because of their
wide dispersion in Europe, North America, and other regions
of the world, e.g. South Africa (Kardel et al. 2010). The ability
of this plant to accumulate metals can be also used in
phytostabilisation and environmental risk assessment studies
(Gucwa-Przepióra et al. 2016; Romeh et al. 2016). Moreover,
it is important to continue this kind of research in order to
determine plants with a tolerance or resistance to environmen-
tal pollution that can be used in developing green belts or to
provide a low-cost and eco-friendly approach for reducing air
pollution.
Conclusions
The examinations of the leaves of Plantago major and
Plantago lanceolata showed anatomical, biochemical and
ecophysiological changes in the plant samples that had been
collected from an industrialized urban area. Strong correla-
tions were found between the SPL and the ecophysiological
parameters (RWC, APTI, Chl, AA, proline content). The met-
al content also correlated with the biochemical and ecophys-
iological indexes to different degrees depending on the specif-
ic element.
The difference in metal concentrations between the washed
and unwashed plant material is an essential distinction. The
statistical analysis demonstrated the necessity of washing the
plant material that is used in metal bioaccumulation studies
because this factor affects the experimental accuracy.
According to the SEM-EDX results, a higher content of Al,
Fe, Si and Mn was observed on the adaxial leaf surfaces at the
road and metallurgical plant sites. During such an analysis,
researchers should take into account the detection limit and
depth of the beam penetration because tracking the trace ele-
ment content in particles >2 μm is quite difficult. Therefore,
for bioaccumulation studies, SEM-EDX analysis with an ad-
ditional analysis of the metal concentration (AAS, ICP etc.) is
recommended.
The results demonstrated that Plantago major had a
higher tolerance ability to environmental pollution compared
with Plantago lanceolata at the site of the metallurgical
plant an area with an extremely high metal content, which
ensured its greater adaptation ability to stress factors.The
calculation of the APTI index demonstrated that the plant
species that were studied have a narrow range (5.67.4) and
are sensitive to air pollutants, including potentially toxic
23368 Environ Sci Pollut Res (2019) 26:2335923371
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
metals, which suggests their usefulness as bioindicators of
the environmental state.
Acknowledgements We would like to express our gratitude to the anon-
ymous reviewers for their careful reading of our manuscript and their
insightful comments and suggestions.
Funding This work was co-funded by the university statutory activity
funds for young researchers.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest The authors declare that they have no conflict of
interest.
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give
appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link
to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
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... The high values of pH in the soil adjacent to the road (the formation of alkali soil) could be due to the traffic activities especially road surface abrasion, which corresponds to the literature results [6,69,70]. Besides, Radziemska and Fronczyk (2015) [71] and Skrynetska et al. (2019) [72] showed that transfer of road abrasion to the edge soil could lead to high levels of pH and change soil pH values over time towards neutral or even alkaline values. On the other hand, the mobility (solubility, migration and bioavailability) of metals in soil is strongly influenced by pH; while alkaline soil pH levels increase metal retention, acid pH has a positive influence on element mobility [69,73]. ...
... The high values of pH in the soil adjacent to the road (the formation of alkali soil) could be due to the traffic activities especially road surface abrasion, which corresponds to the literature results [6,69,70]. Besides, Radziemska and Fronczyk (2015) [71] and Skrynetska et al. (2019) [72] showed that transfer of road abrasion to the edge soil could lead to high levels of pH and change soil pH values over time towards neutral or even alkaline values. On the other hand, the mobility (solubility, migration and bioavailability) of metals in soil is strongly influenced by pH; while alkaline soil pH levels increase metal retention, acid pH has a positive influence on element mobility [69,73]. ...
Article
The road shipping has become one of the major metal contamination sources that could impact on roadside soils. Therefore, this study was conducted to determination, possible source identification and potential ecological and human health risks assessment of trace elements (Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn) in roadside surface soil samples in Hamedan, west of Iran in 2018. In so doing, a total of 63 roadside soil specimens from three main highways, including Goltapeh (G), Razan (R), and Kermanshah (K), were collected. Then, the contents of elements in roadside soils were determined using ICP-OES. Based on the results obtained, the highways with heavy traffic have the highest accumulation of all the metals, suggesting the effect of traffic density on metals concentrations. Computed values of pollution indices with mean of 0.970 for I-geo and 2.16 for PI pointed out that the soils collected from R and K roads primarily contaminated by Zn. The results of potential ecological risk assessment (RI) indicated that the surface soNo potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).ils at all the sites with RI < 150 have low ecological risk. Also, based on the results of human health risk assessment there was no substantial non-carcinogenic risk found to both children and adults through exposure to studied metals in roadside soil. The carcinogenic risk of Cr for both target populations was at the tolerable or acceptable level, while the other metals have no considerable carcinogenic risk. Hazard quotient (HQ) values demonstrated that ingestion was the main path of road soil metal exposure to man beings. Multivariate statistical analyses represented that Mn in the roadside soils derived from both soil minerals erosion and exhaust sources. Other metals also derived from non-exhaust sources (e.g. wear and tear of brakes, tires, engines, and lubricating oil). Our findings could be provided a theoretic basis and data support for pollution monitoring and control, soil remediation treatment and the implementation of public prevention in roadside areas of Hamedan.
... The highest values of GPX activity in the leaves of all studied species were found in Plot 3 (intensive vehicle and railroad traffic), followed by Plot 1 (intensive motor traffic) (p < 0.05). These results show a clear tendency towards increased GPX activity with an increase in the traffic intensity and correlate with the findings of many authors [28,[41][42][43][44]. ...
... The main role of guaiacol peroxidase in plants is the defense against abiotic and biotic stresses, so the GPXs are widely accepted as stress enzymes. A wide range of stressful environmental conditions (pollutants) are shown to induce the production of GPX in plants: heavy metals [42][43][44][45][46], herbicides [60], ozone [61], polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [62], etc. Many authors have revealed both increments and decrements in the GPX activity in plants upon exposure to different pollutants, including motor traffic pollution, depending on the species' properties [36,[63][64][65][66]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this study was to assess the antioxidant response towards urban air pollution of three widespread ornamental species—Tilia tomentosa, Fraxinus excelsior and Pinus nigra. Saplings were planted in four urban plots with different anthropogenic impacts, and periodic observations were performed on their development. Three types of biochemical markers, representing plant responses by three different mechanisms, were analyzed: photosynthetic pigments, free proline and guaiacol peroxidase activity. Our study confirmed that plant responses and adaptation to the environment are complex biological processes including physiological and biochemical changes. As a whole, these experiments revealed that the studied trees react by specific mechanisms towards urban air pollution, and antioxidant responses are significantly correlated with the enhancement of traffic (p < 0.05). Fraxinus excelsior was assessed as being very suitable for urban landscaping due to the significant tolerance to environmentally stressful conditions. Tilia tomentosa was also evaluated as a suitable ornamental species as it demonstrated good development in the urban environment. Pinus nigra was proven as more sensitive to the urban air pollution versus the other two studied trees. These findings could be very useful as a scientific basis for the landscaping practice in terms of the sustainable development and management of urban forestry.
... The Air Pollution Tolerance Index (APTI) is used to classify resistance to air pollution (Skrynetska et al. 2019). Its parameters include total chlorophyll, ascorbic acid concentration, water content, and the PH of leaf extract. ...
... Its parameters include total chlorophyll, ascorbic acid concentration, water content, and the PH of leaf extract. Furthermore, the APTI value and biochemical parameters determine plant tolerance to environmental contaminants and the species' vulnerability to pollution Skrynetska et al. 2019). ...
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Full-text available
Salsabila SH, Kurniadie D, Withaningsih S. 2022. Evaluation of several plant species for the sustainability of green open spaces in three sectors. Biodiversitas 23: 3861-3868. The climate change caused by air pollution could be overcome by creating green open spaces. Plants can absorb air pollution, provide shade, and be used as aesthetics and location boundary. Furthermore, plants' resistance to air pollution varies according to physiology and morphology. The objectives of this study were to assess the species diversity of vegetation and the tolerance index to air pollution of some plant species using the APTI (Air Pollution Tolerance Index) method in household, industry, and transportation areas in Eat Java. The observed plant species in the three sectors were the same. The result showed that the Shannon-Wiener diversity index value (H') was considered medium, and based on the APTI test, Pseuderanthemum reticulatum had the highest tolerance level with an APTI value of 27.59in the industrial sector (I0), 38.31 in the household sector (P1) and 31.73 in the transportation sector (T0). Meanwhile, Syzygium myrtifolium had the lowest tolerance level to air pollution with an APTI value of 12.64 in the industrial sector (I1), 11.59 in the household sector (P1) and 12.70 in the transportation sector (T0). This research provides information regarding the environmental conditions of the ecosystem in green open spaces in the industrial, household and transportation sectors and gives recommendations on the sustainable management of green open spaces in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number 13 based on the tolerance level of plants.
... These results can be added to other reports with the purpose of studying Plantago genus, specifically through monitoring the content of minerals and trace-elements in relation to the place of cultivation, punctual biotopes, and air and soil pollution aspects too [66][67][68][69]; for example, Plantago species are known to interact with various mycorrhizal fungi leading to a higher capacity for nutrient and water appropriation from soil [66], in the same time they were proved very sensitive to air and soil pollutants, therefore they are currently used for bio-monitoring environmental issues, exactly through measuring the changes of minerals and trace elements levels in different plant parts [67][68][69]. ...
... These results can be added to other reports with the purpose of studying Plantago genus, specifically through monitoring the content of minerals and trace-elements in relation to the place of cultivation, punctual biotopes, and air and soil pollution aspects too [66][67][68][69]; for example, Plantago species are known to interact with various mycorrhizal fungi leading to a higher capacity for nutrient and water appropriation from soil [66], in the same time they were proved very sensitive to air and soil pollutants, therefore they are currently used for bio-monitoring environmental issues, exactly through measuring the changes of minerals and trace elements levels in different plant parts [67][68][69]. ...
Article
Full-text available
In this study, six laser radiation (488 nm/40 mW, 514 nm/15 mW, 532 nm/20 mW, 552 nm/15 mW, 660 nm/ 75 mW, and at 785 nm/70 mW) were tested on the aqueous extracts of leaves of Plantago lanceolata L. to compare extraction efficacy and antioxidant and cell viability effects in vitro. Briefly, in comparison with the control extract, laser extracts at 488, 514, 532, and 552 nm revealed small acquisitions of total extractible compounds in samples (up to 6.52%; laser extracts at 488 and 532 nm also revealed minerals and micro-elements increases (up to 6.49%); the most prominent results were obtained upon Fe (up to 38%, 488 nm), Cr (up to 307%, 660 nm), and Zn (up to 465%, 532 nm). Laser extracts at 488, 514, 552, and 785 nm proved more intense antioxidant capacity than the control sample, while laser extract at 660 nm indicated clear pro-oxidant effects. Caco-2 cells study indicated stimulatory activity for the extracts at 488 nm, no effects at 532 nm, and the decrease of the cell viability in the case of extracts at 660 nm respectively. Further studies are necessary to understand the pro-oxidant effects observed in the case of extracts exposed to laser radiation at 660 nm.
... Excluding the copper and zinc content in the flowers collected in the rural area, all the values obtained in the inner city soil are greater than in the rural site. The use of Plantago lanceolata for Zn and Pb biomonitoring in soil has been suggested (Lestan et al., 2003;Skrynetska et al., 2019). Freitas et al. (2004) report 3.0 and 1.5 mg kg −1 of lead for the aerial parts and roots, respectively, while, according to Kovacs et al. (1993), the lead uptake was 47 and 250 mg kg −1 for leaves and roots, respectively. ...
... The heavy metal distribution in the tissues of examined plants, growing on the same soil, presents a marked variability, which may be related to metabolism, physiology, and morphology (e.g., a significant decrease in the stomata pore length in the P. lanceolata leaves was found in plant collected close to a high traffic road (Skrynetska et al., 2019). According to the literature, zinc and copper are considered as the most available trace elements (Alloway, 2013;Eid et al., 2019), but also cadmium and lead have shown significant mobility (E% urban site: Cd = 20.91% and Pb = 21.42%) as deduced from Table 3. ...
Article
Full-text available
The ability of seven herbaceous species (Hypericum perforatum L., Dactylis glomerata L., Plantago lanceolata L., Verbascum thapsus L., Picris hieracioides L., Cichorium intybus L., Daucus carota L.) to accumulate heavy metals such as Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn has been studied. The concentration of heavy metals was determined in roots, basal and cauline leaves, flowers, and stalks for each collected species. The species were selected according to their cosmopolitan characteristics, morphology, life cycle, and phenology. Soils and plants were collected from two sites: close to a high traffic road in the inner city of Rome and in a natural park north of Rome (Canale Monterano). The concentration of elements in soil in descending order were Zn>Pb>Cu>Ni>Cr>Cd, while the EDTA extractable element concentrations in the roots followed the sequence Zn>Cu≈Pb>Cd>Cr>Ni. The bioaccumulation factors (BF) and the transport factors (TF) were calculated for each plant species. Results showed a significant relationship between heavy metals content in soil and plant species. H. perforatum showed a high Pb accumulation capacity in the stalk (70.30 mg kg⁻¹) and roots (73.41 mg kg⁻¹); moreover, BF>1 for this species at urban site has been obtained. Plantago lanceolata and Dactlys glomerata have shown higher Cd absorption (BF=1.33 and 0.55 in rural and urban sites, respectively). Plantago lanceolata in general shows high heavy metal uptake. The distribution of metals within the plant strongly depends on the species; the main accumulation of Ni, Cd, and Cu was observed in the leaves, while the highest Cr concentration was observed in the flowers. Plant species can be effectively considered as valid bioindicators of heavy metals derived from human activities and can be used to monitor pollution changes in the environment.
... Concentrations Mn in terrestrial plants tend to range from 20 to 500 mg kg -1 (Stokes et al., 1988). Similar to present study Skrynetska et al., (2019) found that Mn content in the P. lanceolata plants grown along the road was in the range of 14-41 mg kg -1 and the Pb content was 0.4 to 4.0 mg kg -1 . Nadgórska-Socha et al., (2013) found that Mn content in the leaves of Arabidopsis arenosa L. vas is from 11.8 to 62.3 mg kg -1 and Plantago lanceolata from 6.1 to 22.7 mg kg -1 . ...
Article
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This study reported the concentrations of Pb, Cd, Cr, Mn in parts of four medicinal plant species (Cichorium intybus L., Mentha×piperitaL., Plantago lanceolataL., Verbascum densiflorum Bertol.) collected from two sites, one few meters away and the other 500 m away from a busy road in Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia. Heavy metals were determined by the atomic absorption method using atomic absorption spectrophotometer. Similar content of tested metals in the soil of the tested locations was recorded, only there was more manganese in the soil closer to the road. The highest concentrations of heavy metals were found in the roots of plants closer to the road. The leaves and stem contain smaller quantities of these metals than root, but there are differences between the studied plant species. In conclusion, all examined metals were present in higher concentrations in plants at the location closest to the road than at the location further away from the road.
... Both indexes have been widely used across the globe in order to characterize different tree species according to their tolerance and performance (Alotaibi et al. 2020;Banerjee et al. 2021;Govindaraju et al. 2012;Javanmard et al. 2020;Kaur and Nagpal 2017;Qiu et al. 2019;Skrynetska et al. 2018;Watson et al. 2021). In countries like India, China, Poland, Nigeria, and Pakistan, these indexes have been successfully used to report those tree species that are key in the development of green belts surrounding highly polluted areas since they are instrumental for the development and management of the ecosystem they live in given their tolerance and performance as well as their high capacity to filtrate and retain PM in the atmosphere (Achakzai et al. 2017;Liu et al. 2013;Ogunkunle et al. 2015;Skrynetska et al. 2018Skrynetska et al. , 2019. The mentioned reports of the trees species have shown consensus regarding the classification of the trees using the APTI and API indexes, without a finding in conflicting reports between the studies consulted. ...
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High atmospheric pollution levels in urban areas have become a global problem that threatens both human health and urban ecosystems. Trees that grow near areas with vehicular and industrial emissions can be highly affected, since they constitute the main barrier for emitted pollutants, with trees being either tolerant or sensitive to them. Different methodologies worldwide have been implemented to evaluate the tolerance and sensitivity of tree species to atmospheric pollutants. In this research, the air pollution tolerance index (APTI) and the anticipated performance index (API) are evaluated in order to determine both the degree of tolerance or sensitivity of trees to pollutants in the air and their performance in urban areas. To this end, six tree species found in four biomonitoring zones in the city of Medellín, Colombia, were selected: Mangifera indica, Tabebuia chrysantha-rosea, Erythrina fusca, Jacaranda mimosifolia, Fraxinus uhdei,andSpathodea campanulata. A total of 54 individual trees were evaluated by means of the APTI and API, and it was determined that the species with the highest tolerance (APTI≥16) and the best performance (81<API<90) was Mangifera indica, which highlights the importance of this species in urban areas with air quality problems. On the other hand, it was determined that the most sensitive species (APTI≤11) are Tabebuia chrysantha- rosea, Erythrina fusca,andSpathodea campanulata, while the species with poor performance (41<API<50) are Tabebuia chrysantha-rosea, Erythrina fusca,andJacaranda mimosifolia. These values, therefore, can be used to classify which species can be planted as pollutant sinks and which as air quality bioindicators and thus highlight the importance of urban forests and trees for environmental management and planning in big cities with air quality problems.
... Both indexes have been widely used across the globe in order to characterize different tree species according to their tolerance and performance (Alotaibi et al. 2020;Banerjee et al. 2021;Govindaraju et al. 2012;Javanmard et al. 2020;Kaur and Nagpal 2017;Qiu et al. 2019;Skrynetska et al. 2018;Watson et al. 2021). In countries like India, China, Poland, Nigeria, and Pakistan, these indexes have been successfully used to report those tree species that are key in the development of green belts surrounding highly polluted areas since they are instrumental for the development and management of the ecosystem they live in given their tolerance and performance as well as their high capacity to filtrate and retain PM in the atmosphere (Achakzai et al. 2017;Liu et al. 2013;Ogunkunle et al. 2015;Skrynetska et al. 2018Skrynetska et al. , 2019. The mentioned reports of the trees species have shown consensus regarding the classification of the trees using the APTI and API indexes, without a finding in conflicting reports between the studies consulted. ...
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High atmospheric pollution levels in urban areas have become a global problem that threatens both human health and urban ecosystems. Trees that grow near areas with vehicular and industrial emissions can be highly affected, since they constitute the main barrier for emitted pollutants, with trees being either tolerant or sensitive to them. Different methodologies worldwide have been implemented to evaluate the tolerance and sensitivity of tree species to atmospheric pollutants. In this research, the air pollution tolerance index (APTI) and the anticipated performance index (API) are evaluated in order to determine both the degree of tolerance or sensitivity of trees to pollutants in the air and their performance in urban areas. To this end, six tree species found in four biomonitoring zones in the city of Medellín, Colombia, were selected: Mangifera indica, Tabebuia chrysantha-rosea, Erythrina fusca, Jacaranda mimosifolia, Fraxinus uhdei, and Spathodea campanulata. A total of 54 individual trees were evaluated by means of the APTI and API, and it was determined that the species with the highest tolerance (APTI≥16) and the best performance (81<API<90) was Mangifera indica, which highlights the importance of this species in urban areas with air quality problems. On the other hand, it was determined that the most sensitive species (APTI≤11) are Tabebuia chrysantha-rosea, Erythrina fusca, and Spathodea campanulata, while the species with poor performance (41<API<50) are Tabebuia chrysantha-rosea, Erythrina fusca, and Jacaranda mimosifolia. These values, therefore, can be used to classify which species can be planted as pollutant sinks and which as air quality bioindicators and thus highlight the importance of urban forests and trees for environmental management and planning in big cities with air quality problems.
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A wealth of knowledge has been published in the last decade on redox regulations in plants. However, these works remained largely at cellular and organelle levels. Simple indicators of oxidative stress at the plant level are still missing. We developed a method for direct measurement of leaf Eh and pH, which revealed spatial, temporal, and genotypic variations in rice. Eh (redox potential) and Eh@pH7 (redox potential corrected to pH 7) of the last fully expanded leaf decreased after sunrise. Leaf Eh was high in the youngest leaf and in the oldest leaves, and minimum for the last fully expanded leaf. Leaf pH decreased from youngest to oldest leaves. The same gradients in Eh-pH were measured for various varieties, hydric conditions, and cropping seasons. Rice varieties differed in Eh, pH, and/or Eh@pH7. Leaf Eh increases and leaf pH decreases with plant age. These patterns and dynamics in leaf Eh-pH are in accordance with the pattern and dynamics of disease infections. Leaf Eh-pH can bring new insight on redox processes at plant level and is proposed as a novel indicator of plant stress/health. It could be used by agronomists, breeders, and pathologists to accelerate the development of crop cultivation methods leading to agroecological crop protection.
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The enrichment and accumulation of heavy metals (Cu, Pb, Zn, Cd, Cr, Ni) in Plantago major leafs was comparatively studied in an urban (Cluj-Napoca) and a post-industrial area (Baia-Mare) from Romania. These two sites were selected for study as in Cluj-Napoca the dominant metal pollution sources are related to traffic, urban runoff, residential heating and municipal landfill, while in Baia-Mare the main pollution sources are the former ore processing activities and the remaining metal rich mining wastes. The average concentrations of Zn and Pb were higher in the soils collected from the post-industrial area, while the Cr and Ni in those from the urban area. The Cu, Cd, Cr and Ni in plantain leafs were comparable in both areas, while Pb and Zn were higher in the post-industrial area. Based on the enrichment factor and the metal accumulation index, plantain was found to be tolerant to high metal contents and moderate accumulator of Cu and Zn. © 2018, Universitatea Babes-Bolyai, Catedra de Filosofie Sistematica. All rights reserved.
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The aim of the study was to determine the state of the environment in Sosnowiec (southern Poland) based on the ratio of air pollution tolerance index (APTI) and the determination of concentrations of selected metals in soil and plant material. The study was conducted in ten stands: five of them were identified as ‘polluted’ and five as ‘clean’ stands. The metal content was evaluated by the atomic absorption method. For APTI calculation, analysis of total chlorophyll concentration and relative water content, the pH of the extract from the leaves was used. Analysis of the bioaccumulation of metals in the leaves revealed excessive concentrations of Pb (32.4 mg kg⁻¹) and Zn (129.78 mg kg⁻¹) at the KWK (coal mine) and Las (forest) stands. Higher capacity accumulation of Pb and Fe was characteristic for Plantago lanceolata. The permitted content of Pb (762.6 mg kg⁻¹) in the soil samples collected at the Cedler stand was exceeded. Elevated levels, higher than the permissible concentration of Cd, were documented in soil samples from most stands within the city. In soil samples collected at the Cedler stand, Cd concentration was almost 15 times higher than acceptable for soil (4 mg kg⁻¹). Based on the scope of the APTI 4.4–9.42 index obtained for the studied species, they should be considered sensitive plants. All selected species can be used as bioindicators for environmental pollution.
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The approach based on metallophytes during reclamation of grounds contaminated with heavy metals is still sparse. Thus, we investigated the response of D. carthusianorum calamine ecotype to Pb and Cd stress. We focused on in vitro selection of tolerant plant material appropriated to direct use on chemically degraded areas. Shoot cultures were treated with various concentration of Pb or Cd ions. Plantlets status was estimated on the basis of micropropagation efficiency, growth tolerance index (GTI) and physiological analysis. Moreover, determination of Pb, Cd and chosen elements content was performed. The application of Pb(NO3)2resulted in stronger growth inhibition than the application of CdCl2. In the presence of Pb ions, the reduction of micropropagation coefficient to 1.1 - 1.8 and the decrease of GTI to 48% were ascertained. On the contrary, Cd ions influenced positively on tested cultures what was expressed by the increase of GTI up to 243% on medium enriched with 1.0 μM CdCl2. Moreover, the photosynthetic pigments content in shoots cultivated on media with CdCl2reached higher values than in control treatment. The adaptation to Cd was associated with decreased accumulation of phenols which amounts changed in the following order: 0.0 μM > 1.0 μM > 3.0 μM > 5.5 μM CdCl2. It seems that high tolerance to Cd is related to potassium uptake which is involved in antioxidant defense. This work presents an innovative approach to the impact of Cd ions on plant growth and suggests a potential biological role of this metal in specimens from metalliferous areas. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Green vegetation around industrial premises can provide a cost-effective and eco-friendly technique to mitigate air pollution. Sensitive and tolerant plant species can be identified by evaluating their air pollution tolerance index (APTI). APTI is deduced by evaluating the pH, ascorbic acid, total chlorophyll, and relative water content (RWC) of plant leaves. An APTI score of ≤11, 12-16, and ≥17 classifies the tree species as sensitive, intermediate, and tolerant towards air pollution respectively. The present study was designed to estimate the air pollution tolerance index (APTI) of 25 plant species growing at Talkatora Industrial Area, Lucknow Uttar Pradesh, India. The biochemical properties of plant species ranged from; ascorbic acid: 0.6-19.6mg/g, RWC 41.34%-98.62%, pH4.5-8.2 and chlorophyll content 0.59-1.49mg/g. Findings revealed that among 25 plant species, Ficus bengalensis > Ficus religiosa > Eucalyptus globus > Azadirachta indica juss > Heveabra brasiliensis are tolerant towards air pollution; whereas, Polythalia longifolia was found to be most sensitive. In addition, the dust capturing potential of the plant leaves has also been evaluated. Moringa oleifera leaves were found to have the highest dust capturing potential (5.7mg/cm²), whereas, the lowest was noticed in Acacia nilotica (0.10mg/cm²). Pearson correlation of biochemical parameters revealed that ascorbic acid showed significant correlation (R² =0.897) with APTI. The species having <11 APTI values may be used as a bio-indicator of air quality, while those having APTI ≥17 can be used for green belt designing.
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The aim of this study was to determine the concentrations of heavy metals (Cd, Pb, Zn, Fe, and Mn) in soil, and their bioavailability and bioaccumulation in Vaccinium myrtillus L. and Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. organs. Analysis also concerned the physiological responses of these plants from three polluted sites (immediate vicinity of a zinc smelter in Miasteczko Śląskie, ArcelorMittal Poland S.A. iron smelter in Dąbrowa Górnicza-Łosień, and Jaworzno III power plant in Jaworzno) and one pseudo-control site (Pazurek nature reserve in Jaroszowiec Olkuski). All of the sites are situated in the southern parts of Poland in the Śląskie or Małopolskie provinces. The contents of proline, non-protein thiols, glutathione, ascorbic acid, and the activity of superoxide dismutase and guaiacol peroxidase in the leaves of Vaccinium myrtillus L. and Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. were measured. In soil, the highest levels of Cd, Pb, and Zn (HNO3 extracted and CaCl2 extracted) were detected at the Miasteczko Śląskie site. At all sites a several times lower concentration of the examined metals was determined in the fraction of soil extracted with CaCl2. Much higher Cd, Pb, Zn and Fe concentrations were found in V. myrtillus and V. vitis-idaea grown at the most polluted site (located near the zinc smelter) in comparison with cleaner areas; definitely higher bioaccumulation of these metals was found in lingonberry organs. Additionally, we observed a large capability of bilberry to accumulate Mn. Antioxidant response to heavy metal stress also differed between V. myrtillus and V. vitis-idaea. In V. myrtillus we found a positive correlation between the level of non-protein thiols and Cd and Zn concentrations, and also between proline and these metals. In V. vitis-idaea leaves an upward trend in ascorbic acid content and superoxide dismutase activity accompanied an increase in Cd, Pb, and Zn concentrations. At the same time, the increased levels of all tested metals in the leaves of V. vitis-idaea were accompanied by a decreased activity of guaiacol peroxidase. In both species increased Mn accumulation caused a decrease in antioxidant response.
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Traffic-generated particulate matter (PM) is a significant fraction of urban PM pollution and little is known about the use of living walls as a short-term strategy to reduce this pollution. The present study evaluated the potential of twenty living wall plants to reduce traffic-based PM using a living wall system located along a busy road in Stoke-on-Trent, UK. An Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope (ESEM) and ImageJ software were employed to quantify PM accumulation on leaves (PM1, PM2.5 and PM10) and their elemental composition was determined using Energy Dispersive X-ray (EDX). Inter-species variation in leaf-PM accumulation was evaluated using a Generalized Linear Mixed-effect Model (GLMM) using time as a factor; any differential PM accumulation due to specific leaf characteristics (stomatal density, hair/trichomes, ridges and grooves) was identified. The study showed a promising potential for living wall plants to remove atmospheric PM; an estimated average number of 122.08 ± 6.9 × 107 PM1, 8.24 ± 0.72 × 107 PM2.5 and 4.45 ± 0.33 × 107 PM10 were captured on 100 cm2 of the living wall used in this study. Different species captured significantly different quantities of all particle sizes; the highest amount of all particle sizes was found on the leaf-needles of Juniperus chinensis L., followed by smaller-leaved species. In the absence of an apparent pattern in correlation between PM accumulation and leaf surface characteristics, the study highlighted the importance of individual leaf size in PM capture irrespective of their variable micro-morphology. The elemental composition of the captured particles showed a strong correlation with traffic-based PM and a wide range of important heavy metals. We conclude that the use of living walls that consist largely of smaller-leaved species and conifers can potentially have a significant impact in ameliorating air quality by removing traffic-generated PM pollution to improve the wellbeing of urban dwellers.