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Assessment of Atmospheric Metal Pollution in the Urban Area of Mexico City, Using Ficus benjamina as Biomonitor


Concentrations of vanadium, chromium, cobalt, nickel, copper, zinc, antimony, and lead were measured in Ficus benjamina leaves from the Mexico City urban area in order to assess their enrichment against background values. The instrumental analysis was performed using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and the analytical method was tested using two certified reference materials from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (1547 Peach Leaves and 1573a Tomato Leaves). Enrichment factors were calculated, i.e., total to background concentration ratio, for each metal. Low enrichments of vanadium, cobalt, nickel, and copper (≈2), and mild enrichments of chromium and zinc (4.4, 4.5 respectively) were found in the entire area; oppositely, high enrichments were assessed for antimony (28.6) and lead (17.2). However, results indicate that metal concentrations strongly depend on the specific urban sub-area. Increments of metals were attributed to natural, vehicular, and industrial sources.

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This study was partly conducted thanks to analytical facilities provided by Laboratorio de Análisis Físicos y Químicos del Ambiente, Instituto de Geografía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. This study was performed with financial support from DGAPA (Dirección General de Personal académico, UNAM) project IN117405.

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Correspondence to Ofelia Morton-Bermea.

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Guzmán-Morales, J., Morton-Bermea, O., Hernández-Álvarez, E. et al. Assessment of Atmospheric Metal Pollution in the Urban Area of Mexico City, Using Ficus benjamina as Biomonitor. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 86, 495–500 (2011).

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  • Ficus benjamina
  • Metals
  • Mexico City
  • Biomonitors
  • ICP-MS