Size fractions of dust and amount of associated metals on leaf surface and inner wax of 15 plant species at Beijing roadside
To provide more insight into the removal ability of urban air dust and associated metals by plant leaves, and thus guide urban green planning to improve air quality, 15 plant species leaves collected from Beijing roadside were analyzed for size fractions of leaf surface dust (SD) and inner wax dust (WD). Seven associated metals Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Pb and Zn were also measured. Metal Accumulation Index (MAI) was calculated for different species leaves at various dust sizes and soluble forms, respectively. Cluster analysis was used for the plant species and correlations between dust and metal concentrations and for inter-metal concentrations were calculated for both surface and inner wax dust. Mean leaf total dust TD (SD + WD), SD and WD were measured as 1159, 817 and 342 mg m−2, respectively, with the highest values observed all in Euonymus japonicus. Most species leaves collected larger ratios of SD than WD except Salix babylonica and Robinia pseudoacacia. While SD was presented at all particle size fractions for all plants, nearly all species leaves collected higher proportions of WD >10 µm. Mean metal levels of leaf TD of all species ranged from high to low as Fe > Cr > Zn > Pb > Cu > Mn > Cd, but with different orders for individual species. Metals were observed in all sizes of SD/WD, although the size distributions were various for certain metals. Intercorrelations of metal concentrations in leaf SD/WD were positively significant except Pb, which may have different emission sources. Species Prunus cerasifera f. atropurpurea, Syringa oblata, Malus micromalu, Koelreuteria paniculata and Robinia pseudoacacia may possess better overall metal collection ability due to their relatively higher MAI values, but species Euonymus japonicus, Malus micromalu, Ligustrum x vicaryi and Koelreuteria paniculata were identified as the best choices in removing air dust based on cluster analysis and suggested to be planted at heavy trafficked road site for air quality improvement.