Lichens as Bioindicators of Atmospheric Heavy Metal Pollution in Singapore

Abstract

Lichens have been used as bioindicators in various atmospheric pollution assessments in several countries. This study presents the first data on levels of heavy metals (As, Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn) in lichens at different locations in Singapore, Southeast Asia. Singapore is a fully industrialised island nation, with a prevailing tropical climate and a population of 4 million people within a confined land area of less than 700 km2. The ubiquitous lichen species, Dirinaria picta was collected from six sample sites across Singapore and analysed for heavy metals using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS). No significant relationship existed between metal levels in lichen and soil, indicating that accumulated metals in lichen are primarily derived from the atmosphere. Peak concentrations of zinc (83.55 μg g−1), copper (45.13 μg g−1) and lead (16.59 μg g−1) in lichens were found at Sembawang, Jurong and the National University of Singapore campus which are locations associated with heavy petroleum and shipping industries, and road traffic respectively. The mean heavy metal levels of lichen samples in Singapore were found to be at the upper range of values reported in the literature for temperate countries.

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Correspondence to J. P. Obbard.

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Ng, OH., Tan, B.C. & Obbard, J.P. Lichens as Bioindicators of Atmospheric Heavy Metal Pollution in Singapore. Environ Monit Assess 123, 63–74 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-005-9120-6

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Keywords

  • heavy metals
  • lichen
  • Dirinaria picta
  • Singapore
  • ICPMS