Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 21, pp 21138–21148 | Cite as

Biomonitoring levels of airborne metals around Urmia Lake using deciduous trees and evaluation of their tolerance for greenbelt development

  • Amir Mohammadi
  • Mehdi Mokhtari
  • Asghar Mosleh Arani
  • Hassan Taghipour
  • Yaghoub Hajizadeh
  • Hossein Fallahzadeh
Research Article


In the northwest of Iran, the dust of salty and toxic metals possibly caused due to drying Urmia Lake is threatening the health of surrounding communities. This study aimed to employ leaves of local deciduous trees for biomonitoring of toxic elements and to evaluate air pollution tolerance of the trees for greenbelt application. Sampling from leaves of four dominant tree species including Vitis vinifera, Juglans regia, Ulmus umbraculifera, and Popolus alba was carried out from gardens in two radial distances (5 and 10 km) around the Urmia Lake accounting for 16 sites. The concentration of metals in the leaves were extracted according to method USEPA method 3050B and measured by ICP AES technique. According to the levels of air pollution tolerance index (APTI), Popolus alba showed to be more sensitive to air pollution and can be applied for biomonitoring. The ranks of heavy metals and sodium concentrations in the leaves gained in the order of Na > Zn > Cu > Ni > Pb > As > Cd. The mean enrichment factor for the elements was calculated from 1 to 3, suggesting minor enrichment for them. As, Pb, and Na with similar spatial distribution were dominantly observed in northwest and center-east of the Urmia Lake. Potential ecological risk (PER) index showed a moderate risk in 6% of sampling zones, where Cd and As were identified as responsible pollutants. Principle component and correlation analysis between the elements depicted human sources such as industrial activity and road traffic for Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn, whereas As and Na were most likely originated from the aerosols of Urmia Lake. Our findings showed that Popolus alba can be applied as a local biomonitor and Vitis vinifera with moderate tolerance can be used as a good air pollutant sink in greenbelt development around the drying Urmia Lake in the northwest of Iran.


Biomonitoring Heavy metals Urmia Lake APTI Greenbelt 


Funding information

This study was financially supported by grant number 951108 of the Biotechnology Development Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The authors would like to thank the School of Public Health, Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences, and all those who helped us with this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amir Mohammadi
    • 1
  • Mehdi Mokhtari
    • 1
  • Asghar Mosleh Arani
    • 2
  • Hassan Taghipour
    • 3
  • Yaghoub Hajizadeh
    • 4
  • Hossein Fallahzadeh
    • 5
  1. 1.Environmental Science and Technology Research Center, Department of Environmental Health EngineeringShahid Sadoughi University of Medical SciencesYazdIran
  2. 2.Department of Environment, Faculty of Natural Resources and Desert StudiesYazd UniversityYazdIran
  3. 3.Health and Environment Research Center, Department of Environmental Health EngineeringTabriz University of Medical SciencesTabrizIran
  4. 4.Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of HealthIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  5. 5.Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Research Center of Prevention and Epidemiology of Non-Communicable Disease, Faculty of HealthShahid Sadoughi University of Medical SciencesYazdIran

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