Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 60, Issue 2, pp 233-240

First online:

Assessment of Heavy Metal Pollution in Republic of Macedonia Using a Plant Assay

  • Darinka GjorgievaAffiliated withFaculty of Medical Sciences, University “Goce Delčev” Email author 
  • , Tatjana Kadifkova-PanovskaAffiliated withFaculty of Pharmacy, University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius”
  • , Katerina BačevaAffiliated withFaculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius”
  • , Trajče StafilovAffiliated withFaculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius”

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Different plant organs (leaves, flowers, stems, or roots) from four plant species—Urtica dioica L. (Urticaceae), Robinia pseudoacacia L. (Fabaceae), Taraxacum officinale (Asteraceae), and Matricaria recutita (Asteraceae)—were evaluated as possible bioindicators of heavy-metal pollution in Republic of Macedonia. Concentrations of Pb, Cu, Cd, Mn, Ni, and Zn were determined in unwashed plant parts collected from areas with different degrees of metal pollution by ICP-AES. All these elements were found to be at high levels in samples collected from an industrial area. Maximum Pb concentration was 174.52 ± 1.04 mg kg−1 in R. pseudoacacia flowers sampled from the Veles area, where lead and zinc metallurgical activities were present. In all control samples, the Cd concentrations were found to be under the limit of detection (LOD <0.1 mg kg−1) except for R. pseudoacacia flowers and T. officinale roots. The maximum Cd concentration was 7.97 ± 0.15 mg kg−1 in R. pseudoacacia flowers from the Veles area. Nickel concentrations were in the range from 1.90 ± 0.04 to 5.74 ± 0.03 mg kg−1. For U. dioica leaves and R. pseudoacacia flowers sampled near a lead-smelting plant, concentrations of 465.0 ± 0.55 and 403.56 ± 0.34 mg kg−1 Zn were detected, respectively. In all control samples, results for Zn were low, ranging from 10.2 ± 0.05 to 38.70 ± 0.18 mg kg−1. In this study, it was found that the flower of R. pseudoacacia was a better bioindicator of heavy-metal pollution than other plant parts. Summarizing the results, it can be concluded that T. officinale, U. dioica, and R. pseudoacacia were better metal accumulators and M. recutita was a metal avoider.