Authors: PATIKIRI ARACHCHILAGE DON HASANTHA NAYANA GUNATHILAKA, RATHNAYAKE MUDIYANSELAGE NISANSALA SUBODHANI RANUNDENIYA, MOHAMED MUJITHABA MOHAMED NAJIM, SHIRANI SENEVIRATNE
Abstract: Sri Lanka is facing severe environmental problems such as air and water pollution due to rapid industrialisation and urbanisation. Because there have not been many studies on heavy metal pollution in Sri Lanka, the present study attempts to contribute to the literature a determination of metal pollution using indicators found in lichen specimens. Our study utilised energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry to determine element concentrations resulting from air pollution in the lichen species Heterodermia speciosa Wulfen. These samples, collected from Colombo and Kurunegala, Sri Lanka, were analysed using the energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) method in order to determine the concentrations of 13 different elements. A radioisotope excited X-ray fluorescence analysis was applied to the elemental analysis of lichens using the method of multiple standard addition. Our qualitative analysis of spectral peaks showed that the samples contained potassium, calcium, titanium, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, lead, bromine, rubidium, strontium, yttrium, and gallium. Samples from the environment around Colombo, which is a highly congested urban area with much industrial development, were found to be more polluted when compared with Kurunegala, a city that is less congested and without industries. Concentrations of K, Ca, Ti, and Fe were always higher than other elemental concentrations in the lichens we analysed, a fact attributed to the proximity to the sea or exposed earth crustal sources. From the elements reported from the 2 cities, K, Ca, Ti, Fe, Mn, Zn, and Pb were reported at concentrations higher than background levels. Levels of Pb and Zn in samples from Colombo were higher than those from Kurunegala, reflecting the increased vehicular traffic. This study reveals that the common lichen species Heterodermia speciosa can be used as an indicator lichen to analyse the pollution level and other elements in the atmosphere.
Keywords: Lichens, metal pollution, EDXRF, Heterodermia, air
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