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Authors: Szoenyi, M.* 
Sagnotti, L.* 
Hirt, A. M.* 
Title: A refined biomonitoring study of airborne particulate matter pollution in Rome, with magnetic measurements on Quercus Ilex tree leaves
Issue Date: 2008
Series/Report no.: 1 / 173 (2008)
DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2008.03715.x
Keywords: Environmental magnetism
Rock and mineral magnetism
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.05. Geomagnetism::04.05.08. Instruments and techniques 
Abstract: Elevated levels of airborne particulate matter (PM) are a current problem for air quality in many major metropolitan areas. Many European cities have tightened the PM limits in the air, due to advances in monitoring PM levels. In order to establish guidelines for monitoring and curbing anthropogenic PM output, a better understanding of its origin, composition and diffusion is required. Biomonitoring of magnetic properties of tree leaves has been suggested previously to be a good approach to measure pollution levels in cities both in space and time. We report on a magnetic biomonitoring study of PM in the city of Rome, conducted from 2005 October to December. We collected approximately 180 different sample sets of tree leaves of Quercus ilex, an evergreen oak widely distributed in Rome, at 112 different locations. Specific magnetic susceptibility χ of the leaf is used as a fast, easy and cost-effective proxy to assess levels of primary anthropogenic airborne PM pollution. Highly polluted areas correlate with high traffic areas, with an average susceptibility value of χ = 3.2 × 10−7 m3 kg−1. Low traffic zones are characterized by values more than an order of magnitude lower at χ = 1.4 × 10−8 m3 kg−1, and the background magnetic susceptibility is around χ = 2.6 × 10−9 m3 kg−1. The data show that distance dependence from the source is the most significant factor for the concentration of magnetic PM, and that pollution levels and sources can be reliably delineated by measuring magnetic susceptibility values on tree leaf samples of Q. ilex. A new protocol for magnetic susceptibility measurements is proposed, in order to account for changes due to water evaporation in the leaves as a function of time after collection of the samples. Additional magnetic analyses, such as acquisition of artificial remanences and hysteresis properties, were used to characterize the mineralogy and grain size of the magnetic PM. The results indicate that the population of ferrimagnetic phases have a homogenous composition and grain size throughout the investigated area.
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