Air pollution is a serious problem in many parts of the world, affecting people and the economy of countries, leading to forest decline, loss in agricultural production and diminished status of the population.
A wide array of substances including greenhouse gases, organic dust, and particulate matter is being emitted from natural and anthropogenic sources. The main global concern is on the climatic effects of greenhouse gases. However, airborne particulate matter (APM) is more directly affecting human health, leading to the need for strict governmental regulations on air pollutants. Namely, after emission, the pollutants are subjected to physical, chemical, and photochemical transformations, which ultimately decide their fate and atmospheric concentrations.
Air pollutants do not remain confined near the source emission, but spread over distances, transcending natural and political boundaries depending upon topography and meteorological conditions, especially wind direction and speed, and vertical and horizontal thermal gradients.
There are two conceptual approaches for collecting samples relevant to air and atmospheric deposition related pollution studies: (1) the directcollection of APM, precipitation and total deposit, and (2) the use of air pollution biomonitors. The first approach is aimed at quantitative surveys at local, short-range, medium-range or global transport of pollutants, including health-related studies when collecting size-fractionated APM. It requires continuous sampling on a long-term basis at a large number of sites, in order to ensure the temporal and spatial representativeness of measurements.
The application of such direct measurements on a large scale is extremely costly and person-
power intensive. Furthermore, it is not possible, due to logistic problems, to install instrumental equipment at all needed locations. Therefore, the second approach is considered as a non-expensive, yet reliable means of air quality status assessment in a country or a region. Certain types of biological organisms provide a measure of integrated exposure over a certain amount of time and enrich the substance to be determined so that the analytical accessibility is improved and the measurement uncertainty reduced.
Biomonitoring is a sensitive, selective and user-friendly method of air quality monitoring, to be used in both ambient, indoor and working place conditions, and the relevant information may be deduced from either the abundance, the behaviour of the organisms, or from the presence of specific substances in the monitor tissues. Biomonitors may be applied both in in situ situations, as in surveys in which monitors are exposed that are trans-planted from background level sites...
- dealing with general and specific issues of air pollution
- goals and quality assessment of biomonitoring surveys
- the applicability of bio-organisms in both qualitative and quantitative senses
- the use of multi-element analytical techniques
- interpretation of results for specific pollutants
- use of appropriate statistical tools for detailed data interpretation