Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 28–36 | Cite as

Analysis of Mosses and Soils for Quantifying Heavy Metal Concentrations in Sicily: A Multivariate and Spatial Analytical Approach

  • Paola Gramatica
  • Francesco Battaini
  • Elisa Giani
  • Ester Papa
  • Robert J. A. Jones
  • Damiano Preatoni
  • Roberto M. Cenci
Article

Abstract

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1065/espr2006.01.006

Background

The use of vegetal organisms as indicators of contamination of the environment is partially replacing traditional monitoring techniques. Amongst the vegetal organisms available, mosses appear to be good bioindicators and are used for monitoring anthropogenic and natural fall-out on soils. This study has two objectives: the evaluation of the concentrations of heavy metals in soils and mosses of the Sicily Region, in Italy and the identification of the origin of fall-out of heavy metals.

Methods

Mosses and the surface soil were sampled at 28 sites, only the youngest segments of Hylocomium splendens and Hypnum cupressiforme, corresponding to the plant tissues produced during the last 3 years, were taken. The elements Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn were analysed by ICP-MS and Hg by AAS. Statistical analysis was by PCA and spatial representation by GIS.

Results and Discussion

In the mosses sampled in Sicily, the highest concentrations of Cd were found around the cities of Palermo and Messina. The highest concentrations of Hg were recorded in the northern part of the island between Trapani and Messina, similar to the distribution of Cu. Different areas with the highest concentrations of Ni were found near the south coast, in the vicinity of Palermo and around the Volcano Etna. The highest concentrations of Pb were found in the south-west coast near Agrigento, where important chemical plants and petroleum refineries are located. Except for a few locations, Zn fall-out was found to be evenly distributed throughout Sicily.

Conclusion

The sites where the concentrations of heavy metals cause greatest concern have been revealed by the PCA analysis and portrayed using GIS. Also of some concern is the diffuse and anthropogenic origin of Hg and Cd. The combined approach of using soil and mosses, together with pedological interpretation and application of multivariate statistical techniques has provided valuable insight into the environmental aspects of heavy metal deposition in a region of southern Europe.

Recommendations and Outlook

Further insight into the deposition of heavy metals will require more detailed sampling of soils and mosses in both new and previous study areas. This needs to be complemented by detailed pedological investigations in the study areas. Future research programmes will address these issues.

multivariate analysis mosses GIS heavy metals principal component analysis soil 

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Copyright information

© Ecomed 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paola Gramatica
    • 1
  • Francesco Battaini
    • 2
  • Elisa Giani
    • 3
  • Ester Papa
    • 4
  • Robert J. A. Jones
    • 5
  • Damiano Preatoni
    • 6
  • Roberto M. Cenci
    • 7
  1. 1.Prof. Paola Gramatica Professor of Organic Chemistry and Environmental Chemistry QSAR and Environmental Chemistry Research Unit Department of Structural and Functional Biology University of Insubria Via J.H. Dunant 3 21100 Varese ITALY  
  2. 2.Francesca Battaini QSAR and Environmental Chemistry Research Unit DBSF, University of Insubria Via J.H. Dunant 3 21100 Varese ITALY  
  3. 3.Elisa Giani QSAR and Environmental Chemistry Research Unit DBSF, University of Insubria Via J.H. Dunant 3 21100 Varese ITALY  
  4. 4.Ester Papa QSAR and Environmental Chemistry Research Unit DBSF, University of Insubria Via J.H. Dunant 3 21100 Varese ITALY  
  5. 5.Robert J.A. Jones Institute for Environment and Sustainability Joint Research Centre TP 460 Via E. Fermi 1 21020 Ispra ITALY  
  6. 6.Damiano Preatoni Biocoenosis Analysis and Management Unit DASS, University of Insubria Via J.H. Dunant 3 21100 Varese ITALY  
  7. 7.Roberto M. Cenci Institute for Environment and Sustainability Joint Research Centre TP 460 Via E. Fermi 1 21020 Ispra ITALY  

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