Biomonitoring persistent organic pollutants in the atmosphere with mosses: performance and application

Qimei Wu, Xin Wang, Qixing Zhou
Environment International 2014, 66: 28-37
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have aroused environmentalists and public concerns due to their toxicity, bioaccumulation and persistency in the environment. However, monitoring atmospheric POPs using conventional instrumental methods is difficult and expensive, and POP levels in air samples represent an instantaneous value at a sampling time. Biomonitoring methods can overcome this limitation, because biomonitors can accumulate POPs, serve as long-term integrators of POPs and provide reliable information to assess the impact of pollutants on the biota and various ecosystems. Recently, mosses are increasingly employed to monitor atmospheric POPs. Mosses have been applied to indicate POP pollution levels in the remote continent of Antarctica, trace distribution of POPs in the vicinity of pollution sources, describe the spatial patterns at the regional scale, and monitor the changes in the pollution intensity along time. In the future, many aspects need to be improved and strengthened: (i) the relationship between the concentrations of POPs in mosses and in the atmosphere (different size particulates and vapor phases); and (ii) the application of biomonitoring with mosses in human health studies.

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