PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2011, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (1): 114-120.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2011.01.014

• Original Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Dendrochemistry Application as a Tool for Biomonitoring Environmental Pollution of Mining Areas

LEI Mei1, GUO Lixin2, ZHANG Shanling3   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Fourth High School of Handan, Handan 056001, Hebei, China;
    3. Institute of Applied Ecology, CAS, Shenyang 110016, China
  • Received:2010-01-01 Revised:2010-07-01 Online:2011-01-25 Published:2011-01-25

Abstract: The trees, naturally growing in the mining areas, can uptake heavy metals from air, soil, and irrigation water. The pathways of heavy metals entering the trees might be roots, barks, and leaves. After entering the trees, heavy metals will deposit in the tree-rings during cambium development. The long-term fluctuations of element contents in tree rings can be analysed by the laser ablation system coupled to an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer. Therefore, the pollution processes of mining areas can be recorded by the variation of heavy metal concentrations in the tree-rings, and the influential ratios of different pollution routes can be semi-quantitatively determined. Cases of applications of dendrochemistry in biomonitoring of air, water and soil pollution were reviewed in this article. Based on the point pollution characteristics of mining areas, the possibility of applying dendrochemistry for pollution monitoring was discussed. Aiming to improve the accuracy of research of atmospheric and soil pollution in mining areas by dendrochemistry, different influential factors of heavy metal concentrations in tree rings, such as tree species, selective uptake of elements by trees, climate variation and nutrient providing, were reviewed. Geostatistics, stable isotope tracer, and synchrotron radiation X-ray fluorescence can improve the accuracy of dendrochemistry for environmental pollution recording. Atmospheric dispersion model predicting ground-level concentrations from a point source of metal emissions, such as smelters, can be calibrated on tree rings in order to reconstruct the spatial and temporal Pb-contamination pattern. Dating of the historical record has been achieved using isotopic analysis, for example 210Pb and 137Cs. With the development of analytical techniques of heavy metals in tree rings, dendrochemistry will play a more important role in pollution monitoring in mining areas. This review highlights the strong potential for dendrochemistry to combine with other approaches in environmental research.

Key words: atmospheric deposition, biomonitoring, regional environmental quality, synchrotron, trace elements