Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) accumulation in Quercus palustris and Pinus nigra in the urban landscape of Gothenburg, Sweden

Jenny Klingberg, Bo Strandberg, Henrik Sjöman, Malin Taube, Göran Wallin, Håkan Pleijel

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Trees have the potential to improve urban air quality as leaves and needles capture air pollutants from the air, but further empirical data has been requested to quantify these effects. We measured the concentration of 32 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in leaves of pin oak (Quercus palustris) and needles of black pine (Pinus nigra) in the City of Gothenburg, Sweden, during the summer of 2018. Oak leaves were collected twice (June, September), while one-year-old (C + 1) and three-year-old (C + 3) pine needles were sampled in June to study the temporal development of leaf/needle PAH concentrations. Specific leaf area (SLA) was estimated, which permitted calculation of leaf/needle area-based PAH content that were compared with the mass-based concentration. In addition, the air concentration of PAHs and NO2 was measured using passive samplers. There was a strong correlation between air concentrations of PAH and NO2, indicating that the pollutants to a large degree originate from the same sources. In the oak leaves there was a significant decrease in low molecular mass PAHs (L-PAH, mainly gaseous) between June and September, but a significant increase in high molecular mass PAHs (H-PAH, mainly particle-bound). There was a strong correlation between L-PAH concentration in leaves and in air indicating an influence of equilibrium processes between ambient air and leaf. In the pine needles, there was a significant increase of both L-PAH and H-PAH in three-year-old needles compared to one-year-old needles. Pine was superior to oak in accumulating PAHs from the air, especially for L-PAHs when comparing area-based content. However, H-PAH concentrations were higher in oak leaves compared to pine needles on a leaf mass basis, emphasizing the importance of how concentrations are expressed. The results from this study can contribute to the development of urban planning strategies regarding the effect of vegetation on air quality.

TidskriftScience of the Total Environment
StatusPublished - 2022 jan. 20

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