Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Environmental biomonitoring of chemicals with the emphasis on heavy metals, PAHs and MTBE analyses in the vicinity of major roads and major point pollution sources - epiphytic lichens as an example of relevant bioindicator organisms

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.08.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Control and care of the environment   

Code Science Field
B003  Biomedical sciences  Ecology 

Code Science Field
1.06  Natural Sciences  Biological sciences 
air pollultion, bioindication, lichens, heavy metals, PAH, MTBE, roads, point pollution sources
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (1)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  23000  PhD Helena Poličnik  Interdisciplinary research  Head  2011 - 2013  217 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  1007  Eurofins ERICo Slovenija Inštitut za ekološke raziskave d.o.o. (Slovene)  Velenje  5583055000  2,451 
Traffic is one of the major dispersed pollution sources of both inorganic (e.g. heavy metals, nitrogen oxides) as well as organic pollutants (e.g. polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – PAH's; methyl-tert-buthyl-eter – MTBE). In the proposed research project, suitable accumulative and response/sensitive bioindicators, lichens will be employed for the assessment of air pollution/quality with above mentioned toxic substances in the vicinity of roads with different traffic density (highways, major, regional and local roads, respectively). In addition to determination of pollution gradient along roadsides and assessment of the impact of roads/traffic to their direct surroundings, spatial comparisons with control (unpolluted) areas as well as with areas around major point emission sources (e.g. the Šoštanj Thermal Power Plant, lead smelter in Žerjav) will also be done. For the assessment of the input of pollutants into the environment and their impact on the biocenosis the following issues will be considered: (1) passive bioindication, i.e. by using both accumulative bioindicative methods (determination of the content of toxic substances in “in situ” lichens), as well as response bioindicative methods (i.e. inventory and mapping of epiphytic lichens); (2) active bioindication, i.e. by transplantation of the indicator lichen species for the period of 6 months to study areas and by subsequent determination of pollutant’s accumulation rate in exposed samples. Goals of the proposed research project are as follows: (1) determination of the contribution of traffic-related toxic substances (as well as of those originated from the point emission sources) on the pollution of air and lichens in Slovenia; (2) determination of relation between traffic density and the content of pollutants in selected lichen species; (3) assessment of the efficiency of “green barriers” for the limitation of traffic-related pollution at the roadside. A comprehensive analysis of the influence of traffic on the environmental pollution (considering a wide range of both inorganic and organic pollutants) and by using bioindicator organisms has not been done so far in Slovenia, therefore the proposed research project represents novelty and originality at least for our country. The realization of the project is not only important for the road managers (e.g. Directorate for Roads or Motorway Company of the Republic of Slovenia), but also for the major point polluters (e.g. electrical industry), which both represent end-users, and will also provide co-founding of the project. Moreover, considering the relevance and the expected value/applicability of the results it is of a great importance that the proposed project is directly linked to Environmental biomonitoring of chemicals (which is rather mandatory issue, defined also by the Slovene legislation), with primary purpose to assure healthy environment for all Slovenian inhabitants. Participation of the project leader in recently established expert team for biomonitoring of chemicals, her former achievements and references on the field of bioindication by lichens, precisely known structure of the project considering both organisational as well as scientific aspect, and well equipped laboratory of ERICo Velenje assure high feasibility of the proposed research project.
Significance for science
In the context of the present postdoctoral project the effects of air pollutants originating from traffic on the environment along road sections with different traffic density was assessed. The project had already created two original scientific articles; the third is in the pipeline. Since the students were also invited in the framework of the project, the transfer of knowledge to younger generations was done, resulting in two diplomas on 1st degree of Bologna study programme, and one research paper in high school. All findings obtained in the project are also carried over to the regular study program, as they are included in the contents of more subjects; project manager is included in the educational processes of the University of Primorska (the bearer of the subject Ecotoxicology, participation in subject Environmental monitoring and in the subject Ecoremediations) and the Environmental Protection College Velenje (participation in the subject Bioindication and biomonitoring). Contents were also presented to students at the University of Nova Gorica (invited lecture). By integrating the results of the projects in the study process direct transfer of knowledge and also the approximation of methods and the importance of bioindication to all students are made.
Significance for the country
By conducting postdoctoral project we have gained important information on the burden of the different areas in Slovenia, mainly due to growing traffic and traffic related pollutants in our environment. Data for Slovenia are of the utmost importance, as the country bioindication or biomonitoring is mandatory, but it is extremely difficult to provide funding for such measurements. The data obtained will be included in the central database of environmental pollution, which were gained by using bioindicators (in accordance with the Law on Chemicals and mandatory Environmental biomonitoring). The aim of biomonitoring of chemicals is to obtain a statistically significant amount of data to show the actual loading of the environment and organisms with certain pollutants. The long-term goal is to monitor trends in the environmental pollution in longer period. The data will serve as a basis for assessment of state or risk for the environment, for the introduction of protective measures, and will enable regular monitoring under the provisions of the Law on Chemicals according to Articles 49, 50, 51 (prohibitions and restrictions) and Article 51a (biomonitoring of chemicals).
Most important scientific results Final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2012, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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