Elemental characterisation of native lichens collected in an area affected by traditional charcoal production


This study provides a seasonal elemental characterisation of native lichens collected in rural areas of Portugal affected by charcoal kilns, using nuclear analytical techniques and electric conductivity. In autumn, it was possible to identify high levels of electric conductivity near the site with charcoal kilns due to higher oxidative stress of the lichens’ membrane. Typical chemical elements associated with emissions of wood burning, such as S and P, also presented the highest contents near the charcoal kilns. However, the same phenomenon was not found in spring. Residential areas presented the highest levels of S and P probably due to the impact of biomass burning from home heating that occurred during the winter period. Overall, lichens were found to be enriched with elements that can be attributable to non-crustal sources, namely, sea salt spray (Cl and Na), fertilisers used in agriculture (P and Ca) and wood burning (P and S).

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N. Canha acknowledges the funding by national funds through FCT—Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P. (Portugal) for his Postdoc Grant (SFRH/BPD/102944/2014) and his contract ISD-ID (IST-ID/098/2018). The FCT support is also gratefully acknowledged by C2TN/IST (UIDB/04349/2020 + UIDP/04349/2020) and by CESAM (UIDB/50017/2020 + UIDP/50017/2020). This work is based on experiments performed at the PGAA (PromptGamma Activation Analysis) instrument at the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum (MLZ), Garching, Germany.

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Correspondence to Nuno Canha.

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Canha, N., Justino, A.R., Galinha, C. et al. Elemental characterisation of native lichens collected in an area affected by traditional charcoal production. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 325, 293–302 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10967-020-07224-3

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  • Charcoal production
  • Biomonitoring with lichens
  • Air pollutants
  • Prompt gamma activation analysis
  • Electric conductivity