Airborne trace element pollution in 11 European cities assessed by exposure of standardised ryegrass cultures

Andreas Klumpp, Wolfgang Ansel, Gabriele Klumpp, Jörn Breuer, Philippe Vergne, María José Sanz, Stine Rasmussen, Helge Ro-Poulsen, Àngela Ribas Artola, Josep Peñuelas, Shang He, Jean Pierre Garrec, Vicent Calatayud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Within a European biomonitoring programme, Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) was employed as accumulative bioindicator of airborne trace elements (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni, Pb, Sb, V, Zn) in urban agglomerations. Applying a highly standardised method, grass cultures were exposed for consecutive periods of four weeks each to ambient air at up to 100 sites in 11 cities during 2000-2002. Results of the 2001 exposure experiments revealed a clear differentiation of trace element pollution within and among local monitoring networks. Pollution was influenced particularly by traffic emissions. Especially Sb, Pb, Cr, Fe, and Cu exhibited a very uneven distribution within the municipal areas with strong accumulation in plants from traffic-exposed sites in the city centres and close to major roads, and moderate to low levels in plants exposed at suburban or rural sites. Accumulation of Ni and V was influenced by other emission sources. The biomonitoring sites located in Spanish city centres featured a much higher pollution load by trace elements than those in other cities of the network, confirming previously reported findings obtained by chemical analyses of dust deposition and aerosols. At some heavily-trafficked sites, legal thresholds for Cu, Pb, and V contents in foodstuff and animal feed were reached or even surpassed. The study confirmed that the standardised grass exposure is a useful and reliable tool to monitor and to assess environmental levels of potentially toxic compounds of particulate matter. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-339
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Air quality
  • Biomonitoring
  • Lolium multiflorum
  • Particulate matter
  • Trace elements
  • Urban ambient air


Dive into the research topics of 'Airborne trace element pollution in 11 European cities assessed by exposure of standardised ryegrass cultures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this