Lichens as integrating air pollution monitors

Environ Pollut. 2002;120(1):107-13. doi: 10.1016/s0269-7491(02)00133-1.


In this work an attempt to combine the results of lichen mapping with the quantitative levels of certain trace elements in Hypogymnia physodes (L.) Nyl. collected on a national scale is presented. An Index of Atmospheric Purity (IAP) was calculated using a simple method of mapping lichens based on the assessment of the cover and frequency of crustose, foliose and fruticose lichens on different tree species. For determination of trace elements in lichens k0-instrumental neutron activation analysis was used. From the IAP results it can be concluded that the epiphytic lichen flora look quite poor with more than 70% of the territory in the fourth and third classes, which represent highly polluted and moderately polluted air. By comparing IAP results with elemental levels in H. physodes using multivariate statistical methods it was found that the elemental levels do not have a direct negative effect on the diversity of lichens but can help in identification of the type of possible pollution sources and their origin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Geographic Information Systems*
  • Lichens / chemistry*
  • Multivariate Analysis


  • Air Pollutants