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Assessment of the quality of the air in the city of Palermo through chemical and cell analyses on Pinus Needles


The influence of air pollution on the chemical composition of Pinus sp. needles was examined in polluted and control sites in and around the city of Palermo (Sicily). The chemical composition of needles indicated the extent of contamination of the trees, which were cytologically examined. Cell analysis was carried out on pine samples, including needles and pollens, from 15 different locations. Biostructural and spectrophotometric tests were performed. In particular, concentrations of toxic (Cd, Pb) and non-toxic metals (Fe,Cu, Zn) were determined, as well as injury caused by their accumulation in the needles. The more highly urbanised areas showed higher concentrations of metals (Pb, Cu. Zn, Fe); only the concentrations of Cd and Mn turned out to be constant in all the sites. Cell analysis revealed displasic cells and secondary metabolite accumulations in trees from polluted sites. These changes observed were most likely caused by the toxic effect of pollutants.