Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 158, Issue 1, pp 197-212

First online:

Biochemical responses in tree foliage exposed to coal-fired power plant emission in seasonally dry tropical environment

  • Atul Prakash SharmaAffiliated withPollution Ecology Research Laboratory, Centre of Advanced Study in Botany, Banaras Hindu University Email author 
  • , B. D. TripathiAffiliated withCentre of Environmental Science and Technology, Faculty of Science, Banaras Hindu University

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A biomonitoring study was conducted to investigate the responses of plants exposed to power plant emission in a dry tropical environment. For this purpose, five sampling sites were selected in the prevailing wind direction (NE) at different distance to thermal power plant (TPP) within 8.0 km range and a reference site was selected in eastern direction at a distance of 22.0 km. The two most common tree species, Ficus benghalensis L. (Evergreen tree) and Dalbergia sisso Roxb. (deciduous tree) were selected as test plants. Ambient sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), suspended particulate matter (SPM), respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM), dust-fall rate (DFR) and plant responses such as leaf pigments (chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b and carotenoids), ascorbic acid, sugar and sulphate–sulphur (\(\textnormal{SO}_{4}^{2-}-\textnormal{S}\)) contents were measured. Ambient SO2, NO2, SPM, RSPM and DFR showed significant spatial and temporal variation at different sites. Considerable reduction in pigment (chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b and carotenoids) and sugar contents were observed at sites receiving higher pollution load. Ascorbic acid exhibited significant positive correlation with pollution load. Accumulation of \(\textnormal{SO}_{4}^{2-}-\textnormal{S}\) in leaf tissue showed significant positive correlation with ambient SO2 concentration at all the sites. At the same time, \(\textnormal{SO}_{4}^{2-}-\textnormal{S}\) showed significant negative correlation with pigment and sugar content. D. sisso Roxb. tree was found to be more sensitive as compared to F. benghalensis L. tree.


Coal-fired thermal power plant Biochemical parameters Tree leaves Air pollution Sulphate–sulphur