Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 14, pp 14210–14220 | Cite as

Ecological risk assessment of heavy metal (HM) pollution in the ambient air using a new bio-indicator

  • Mohammad Miri
  • Ahmad Allahabadi
  • Hamid Reza Ghaffari
  • Zeynab Abaszadeh Fathabadi
  • Zahra Raisi
  • Mehrab Rezai
  • Mohsen Yazdani Aval
Research Article


The aim of this descriptive-analytical study was to measure the concentration of heavy metals (HMs) in the leaf and bark of Ulmus carpinifolia as new biological indicators, and the ecological risk assessment of these metals in the ambient air. To achieve these goals, 48 sampling locations were selected in the city and concentration of four HMs—zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), and cadmium (Cd)—was measured in the mentioned indicator using atomic absorption spectroscopy method. After this, ecological risk assessment, source appointment, and spatial distribution were conducted. In this regard, the enrichment factor (EF), potential ecological risk factor (E r), potential ecological risk index (RI), correlation coefficient (r), and other indices were calculated. The results showed that the concentration of HMs in the leaf and bark in ascending order is as Cd<Cu<Pb<Zn and Cd<Pb<Cu<Zn, respectively. The EF results indicated that the main origin of all measured HMs except Zn is anthropogenic sources. Also, the principal component analysis (PCA) and spatial distribution proved that the concentration of HMs is mainly originated from the traffic and other human activities. On the other hand, the results RI presented that the majority of locations sampled in the study area was exposed to serious ecological risk in terms of surveyed HMs. The leaf and bark of U. carpinifolia can be applied as bio-indicators of the presence of heavy metals in the ambient air and ecological risk imposed by them.


Heavy metals (HMs) Bio-indicator Ulmus carpinifolia Ecological risk assessment Ambient air 



The authors acknowledge the School of Public Health laboratories, Yazd University of Medical Science, and all those who helped us in this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammad Miri
    • 1
  • Ahmad Allahabadi
    • 2
  • Hamid Reza Ghaffari
    • 3
    • 4
  • Zeynab Abaszadeh Fathabadi
    • 1
  • Zahra Raisi
    • 1
  • Mehrab Rezai
    • 1
  • Mohsen Yazdani Aval
    • 5
  1. 1.Environmental Science and Technology Research Center, Department of Environmental Health, School of Public HealthShahid Sadoughi University of Medical SciencesYazdIran
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Health, School of Public HealthSabzevar University of Medical SciencesSabzevarIran
  3. 3.Social Determinants in Health Promotion Research CenterHormozgan University of Medical SciencesBandar AbbasIran
  4. 4.Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Public HealthTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  5. 5.Department of Medical ScienceTarbiat Modarres UniversityTehranIran

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