Main content area

Trace elements in the pollen of Ambrosia artemisiifolia: What is the effect of soil concentrations?

Cloutier-Hurteau, Benoît, Gauthier, Stefanie, Turmel, Marie-Claude, Comtois, Paul, Courchesne, François
Chemosphere 2014 v.95 pp. 541-549
Ambrosia artemisiifolia, absorption, air quality, allergenicity, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, flowers, human health, humans, hypersensitivity, lead, manganese, models, nickel, pollen, roots, soil organic carbon, soil pH, zinc
Concentrations of nine trace elements (Ba, Cd, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb, Tl and Zn) were measured in a plant bearing allergenic pollens (ragweed) and their transfers from soils to the roots and then to the pollens were investigated. The soil, roots and pollens collected from flowers were sampled at 26 urban sites. Soil pH, soil organic carbon and total-recoverable trace elements (TE) in soil, roots and pollens were measured. The three biogeochemical compartments are well discriminated according to their TE concentrations. The concentrations (in μgg−1) in pollens decreased as follow: Zn (59.5–205)>Mn (19.4–117)>Ba≈Cr≈Cu≈Ni≈Pb (0.54–27.7)>Cd (0.06–0.77)≫Tl (0.0015–0.0180). Mean elemental allocation within ragweed always favored roots over pollen but, at site level, inverse pattern is also observed mostly for Zn and slightly for Cu and Ni. Significant predictive models of TE concentrations in pollens were obtained using soil or root properties only for Cd, Ni and Pb. They all involved positive relationships between TE concentrations in pollens and in soil or roots. Estimates of short-term exposure of human to TE carried out by ragweed pollens indicate TE absorption of less than 50ng, far below thresholds of air quality criteria. Investigating the TE chemistry of pollens is a required first step to validate the impact of TE in pollens on human health and on the prevalence and intensity of allergy symptoms and atopic diseases.