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The impact of urban pollution on metal contamination of selected forest pockets in Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Urban forests are exposed to metals, such as manganese, copper, and zinc in the atmosphere that originate from anthropogenic activities, that include vehicle-related traffic, industries, construction sites, fossil fuel burning for heating and cooking purposes, and resuspension processes related to urban surfaces. Not only is the rich biodiversity of plant and animal species in forests under threat, but so are the biodiversity of soil, sustaining ecosystem functions, as well as human health. The objective of this study was therefore to determine the concentrations of manganese, copper, and zinc arising from urban, industrial, and traffic-related pollution in the remote and/or untouched urban indigenous forests using soil, leaf litter, and key forest organisms (mosses, lichens, and millipedes) in three forests (Platbos, Orange Kloof, and Newlands) in the Western Cape, South Africa. Elevated concentrations of these metals were found in the forests closest to the city, as well as at sites in close proximity of vehicle traffic.

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Acknowledgements

We also wish to thank the following organizations and people for granting permits, analysis of samples and identification of the sentinel organisms: Deborah Jean Winterton (SANParks), Francois and Melissa Krige (Platbos forest), Riana Rossouw (ICP laboratory, University of Stellenbosch), Bemlab, Professor Terry Hedderson (University of Cape Town), Dr. Andre Aptroot (ABL Herbarium, Netherlands), and Michelle Hamer (SANBI).

Funding

We wish to thank the Cape Peninsula University of Technology for funding.

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Correspondence to Anne-Liese Krüger.

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Krüger, AL., Snyman, R. & Odendaal, J. The impact of urban pollution on metal contamination of selected forest pockets in Cape Town, South Africa. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26, 12537–12549 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-019-04679-0

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Keywords

  • Metal: Forest
  • Metals
  • Urban pollution
  • Brown haze
  • Sentinel organisms
  • Soil
  • Leaf litter
  • Invertebrates