Santos, A., Pinho, P., Munzi, S., Botelho, M.J., Palma, J.M. & Branquinho, C. (2017) The role of forest in mitigating the impact of heavy metal pollution deposition in a mixed landscape.Environmental Science & Pollution Research, 24(13), 12038-12048. DOI:10.1007/s11356-017-8964-y (IF2017 2,800; Q1 Environmental Sciences)
Atmospheric dust pollution, especially particulate matter below 2.5 μm, causes 3.3 million premature deaths per year worldwide. Although pollution sources are increasingly well known, the role of ecosystems in mitigating their impact is still poorly known. Our objective was to investigate the role of forests located in the surrounding of industrial and urban areas in reducing atmospheric dust pollution. This was tested using lichen transplants as biomonitors in a Mediterranean regional area with high levels of dry deposition. After a multivariate analysis, we have modeled the maximum pollution load expected for each site taking into consideration nearby pollutant sources. The difference between maximum expected pollution load and the observed values was explained by the deposition in nearby forests. Both the dust pollution and the ameliorating effect of forested areas were then mapped. The results showed that forest located nearby pollution sources plays an important role in reducing atmospheric dust pollution, highlighting their importance in the provision of the ecosystem service of air purification.