Active green wall plant health tolerance to diesel smoke exposure

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Environmental Pollution, 2018, 240 pp. 448 - 456
Issue Date:
2018-09-01
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd Poor air quality is an emerging world-wide problem, with most urban air pollutants arising from vehicular emissions. As such, localized high pollution environments, such as traffic tunnels pose a significant health risk. Phytoremediation, including the use of active (ventilated) green walls or botanical biofilters, is gaining recognition as a potentially effective method for air pollution control. Research to date has tested the capacity of these systems to remove low levels of pollutants from indoor environments. If botanical biofilters are to be used in highly polluted environments, the plants used in these systems must be resilient, however, this idea has received minimal research. Thus, testing was conducted to assess the hardiness of the vegetated component of a botanical biofilter to simulated street level air pollutant exposure. A range of morphological, physiological, and biochemical tests were conducted on 8 common green wall plant species prior to and post 5-week exposure to highly concentrated diesel fuel combustion effluent; as a pilot study to investigate viability in in situ conditions. The results indicated that species within the fig family were the most tolerant species of those assessed. It is likely that species within the fig family can withstand enhanced air pollutant conditions, potentially a result of its leaf morphology and physiology. Other species tested were all moderately tolerant to the pollution treatment. We conclude that most common green wall plant species have the capacity to withstand high pollutant environments, however, extended experimentation is needed to rule out potential long term effects along with potential decreases in filter efficiency from accumulative effects on the substrate. MS capsule summary: The results obtained from the multi-trait plant health assessment provide proof-of-concept that active botanical biozfilters are able to withstand short term, high level pollutant exposure.
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