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Particulate matter accumulation capacity of plants in Hanoi, Vietnam

Sinh, Nguyen Van, Bertold, Mariën, Mariën, Bertold, Mariën, Joachim, Nguyen, Xuan Hoa, Nguyen, The Cuong, Nguyen, Van Sinh, Samson, Roeland
Environmental pollution 2019 v.253 pp. 1079-1088
Muntingia calabura, air, cities, environmental factors, hydrophilicity, leaf area, leaves, particulates, population growth, risk, urbanization, Vietnam
Population growth, urbanization, environmental conditions and rapid development have caused particulate matter (PM) levels to rise above all national and international health standards during the last two decades in many South-East Asian countries. These PM levels needs to be reduced urgently as they increase the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory health problems for millions of people. Plants have shown to efficiently reduce PM in the air by accumulation on their leaves. In order to investigate which plant species accumulate most PM, we screened 49 common plant species for their PM accumulation capacity in one of the tropical cities with the highest PM concentrations of the world, Hanoi (Vietnam). Using this subset of plants, we tested if certain leaf characteristics (leaf hydrophilicity, stomatal densities and the specific leaf area) can predict the PM accumulation efficiency of plant species. Our results show that the PM accumulation capacity varies substantially among species and that Muntingia calabura accumulated most PM in our subset of plants. We observed that plants with hydrophilic leaves, a low specific leaf area and a high abaxial stomatal density accumulated significantly more PM. Plants with these characteristics should be preferred by urban architects to reduce PM levels in tropical environments.