Isotope ecological indicators of air contamination

Due to its incidence on Human health, air pollution is a major source of concern, and is now a critical societal issue for most countries. The need to evaluate, monitor and understand the parameters controlling the quality of our atmosphere is quickly arising. Today, the management strategies for air quality are almost exclusively based on monitoring pollutants concentration levels in a selection of sites and samples through time.

The monitoring of air quality is traditionally conducted through direct measurements of physical parameters and chemical assays. The latter often face analytical challenges due to the typically low concentrations of pollutants in environmentally relevant conditions.

Bioindicators are used to assess the cumulative impacts of chemical pollutants over time, and consequently represent an alternative fundamentally different from classic assessments of environmental quality, that offer numerous advantages.

Our group has developed an isotope expertise in using bioindicators such as mosses and lichens or bird tissues to identify sources of atmospheric metals as well as to quantify their respective impact for a given study area

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