Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health

, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 665–671 | Cite as

Urban tree leaves’ chlorophyll-a content as a proxy of urbanization

  • Vanda Éva MolnárEmail author
  • Béla Tóthmérész
  • Szilárd Szabó
  • Edina Simon


We tested the effect of urbanization on air pollution based on the chlorophyll-a content of Celtis occidentalis leaves along an urbanization gradient (urban, suburban and rural areas) in Debrecen, Hungary. Chlorophyll-a content of Celtis occidentalis, Acer campestre, and Corylus avellana were compared to test which species is the most useful to study the effects of urbanization. Furthermore, the effects of washing solutions (distilled water, tap water, and rainwater) on chlorophyll-a content of tree leaves were also tested during sample preparation. Chlorophyll-a was extracted from leaf samples with acetone, and it was measured using a spectrophotometer. Along the urbanization gradient, chlorophyll-a content of C. occidentalis leaves was the lowest in the urban area; thus, this species proved to be an effective indicator of anthropogenic emission load. Differences were not significant among species in the suburban and rural areas, where the level of air pollution was moderate. We found that effects of the washing solutions on chlorophyll-a content did not differ significantly from each other. Thus, tap water can be used safely to clean the leaf surface, without significant influence on chlorophyll-a. Our study demonstrated that the chlorophyll-a content of leaves was a useful indicator to assess the level of air pollution.


Air quality Biomonitoring Celtis occidentalis Photosynthetic pigments 


Funding information

The publication is supported by the EFOP-3.6.1-16-2016-00022 project. The project is co-financed by the European Union and the European Social Fund. Research was supported by OTKA K 116639, KH 126481 and KH 126477 grants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vanda Éva Molnár
    • 1
    Email author
  • Béla Tóthmérész
    • 2
  • Szilárd Szabó
    • 1
  • Edina Simon
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Physical Geography and GeoinformaticsUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  2. 2.MTA-DE Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Research GroupDebrecenHungary
  3. 3.Department of EcologyUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary

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