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Current issues and uncertanties in the measurement and modelling of air-vegetation exchange and within-plant processing of POPs.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2004
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Journal number1-2
Volume128
Number of pages40
Pages99-138
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Air–vegetation exchange of POPs is an important process controlling the entry of POPs into terrestrial food chains, and may also have a significant effect on the global movement of these compounds. Many factors affect the air–vegetation transfer including: the physicochemical properties of the compounds of interest; environmental factors such as temperature, wind speed, humidity and light conditions; and plant characteristics such as functional type, leaf surface area, cuticular structure, and leaf longevity. The purpose of this review is to quantify the effects these differences might have on air/plant exchange of POPs, and to point out the major gaps in the knowledge of this subject that require further research. Uptake mechanisms are complicated, with the role of each factor in controlling partitioning, fate and behaviour process still not fully understood. Consequently, current models of air–vegetation exchange do not incorporate variability in these factors, with the exception of temperature. These models instead rely on using average values for a number of environmental factors (e.g. plant lipid content, surface area), ignoring the large variations in these values. The available models suggest that boundary layer conductance is of key importance in the uptake of POPs, although large uncertainties in the cuticular pathway prevents confirmation of this with any degree of certainty, and experimental data seems to show plant-side resistance to be important. Models are usually based on the assumption that POP uptake occurs through the lipophilic cuticle which covers aerial surfaces of plants. However, some authors have recently attached greater importance to the stomatal route of entry into the leaf for gas phase compounds. There is a need for greater mechanistic understanding of air–plant exchange and the ‘scaling’ of factors affecting it. The review also suggests a number of key variables that researchers should measure in their experiments to allow comparisons to be made between studies in order to improve our understanding of what causes any differences in measured data between sites.