Lichens Used as Monitors of Atmospheric Pollution Around Agadir (Southwestern Morocco)—A Case Study Predating Lead-Free Gasoline

Gaetano Dongarra', Claire Rambeau, Carmela Chateau, Lhoussaine Bouchaou, Olivier Bruguier, Rémi Losno, Fabrice Monna, Stuart Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


More than 30 epiphytic lichens, collected in Agadir (Morroco) and along a 150-km transect from the Atlantic Ocean eastward, were analyzed for their metal content and lead isotopic composition. This dataset was used to evaluate atmospheric metal contamination and the impact of the city on the surrounding area. The concentrations of Cu, Pb, and Zn (average ± 1 SD) were 20.9 ± 15.2 μg g-1, 13.8 ± 9.0 μg g-1, and 56.6 ± 26.6 μg g-1, respectively, with the highest values observed in lichens collected within the urban area. The 206Pb/207Pb and 208Pb/207Pb ratios in the lichens varied from 1.146 to 1.186 and from 2.423 to 2.460, respectively. Alkyllead-gasoline sold in Morocco by the major petrol companies gave isotopic ratios of 206Pb/207Pb = 1.076-1.081 and 208Pb/207Pb = 2.348-2.360. These new, homogeneous values for gasoline-derived lead improve and update the scarce isotopic database of potential lead sources in Morocco, and may be of great value to future environmental surveys on the presence of lead in natural reservoirs, where it persists over time (e.g., soils and sediments). The interest of normalizing metal concentrations in lichens to concentrations of a lithogenic element is demonstrated by the consistency of the results thus obtained with lead isotopic ratios. Leaded gasoline contributed less than 50% of the total amount of lead accumulated in lichens, even in areas subject to high vehicular traffic. This strongly suggests that the recent banishment of leaded gasoline in Morocco will not trigger a drastic improvement in air quality, at least in Agadir
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1263-1274
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


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