From: Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
Published November 3, 2017 02:07 PM

MIPT scientists enlist lichens to monitor air pollution

Researchers have shown free radical concentrations in lichens to be directly related to air pollution.

An MIPT-based team of researchers has proposed analyzing lichen composition to assess atmospheric air quality when conventional monitoring stations are unavailable. They produced a case study of the Xanthoria parietina lichen, whose samples were collected in Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, and two towns outside Moscow — Dolgoprudny and Dubna. Sample analysis revealed their iron, copper, and manganese content, along with free radical concentrations of phenol and polyphenol — two types of compounds occurring naturally in lichens. The research findings were published in the Journal of Applied Spectroscopy.

“By showing that atmospheric air quality determines the concentration of radicals in lichens, we prove that electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy can be used for environmental monitoring in cities,” says associate professor Svetlana Zhuravleva of the Department of Chemistry, MIPT. “This makes the method very convenient for those areas where air monitoring stations are not available. And that means many: Even major cities populated by millions of people typically have no more than ten such facilities.”

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