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  • The use of mosses to evaluate the fluxes of deposition of trace elements by assessing the time required to exceed the soil threshold values specified in D.M. 471/1999


The coupling of soils and mosses allows one to obtain significant information useful for environmental management in order to assure better protection of human health.

The types of areas in the present investigation are quite variable both because of areal extent and for the different e exploitation of the territories studied. These include the regions of Sicily, Marche, Umbria, the Province of Varese, the national Park of Sibillini mountains, the municipalities ofCastano Primo (Milano), Parona (Pavia) and Trezzo d' Adda (Milano).

Besides providing spatial distribution of element concentrations such as: As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and Zn, the coupling of soils and mosses allows the identification of the origin of the measured atmospheric deposition by distinguishing between anthropic and natural accumulation.

From the concentration values (element mass / moss mass) determined in the mosses, it is possible to assess the deposition rate (element mass / time area over time). Combining the deposition rate with soil element concentration allows an assessment of the time necessary to exceed soil threshold values indicated in the D.M..471/99.

In this context, the soil is considered a "closed box", by excluding losses of trace elements due to desorption, vegetation uptake or other processes. For all the area types considered, such as agricultural zones, public parks and gardens, urban and industrial areas, the estimated time needed to exceed soil threshold limits range from a "minimum" of hundreds of years to a "maximum" of hundreds of thousands of years.

Additional information

Authors: CENCI R M, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT);MUSMECI L, Istituto Superiore Sanità, Roma (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: An oral paper given at: Societa' Italiana.della Scienza del Suolo. Convegno Annuale. Conservazione della risorsa suolo Organised by: Societa' Italiana della Scienza del Suolo and Unlversita' di Piacenza Held at: Piacenza, 8-10 June 2002
Availability: Available from European Commission, JRC Knowledge Management Unit, Ispra (IT) Tel: +39 033278 9843 or +39 033278 9864 Fax: +39 033278 9623 E-mail:
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