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Influence of vehicular traffic on levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) bioaccumulated in lichen Parmeliaceae and its toxic equivalence potential, in two sectors of the city of Popayán-Cauca.
Diana Marcela Uribe Ante, Lina Maria Ortega Fernández, Marco Tadeu Grassi, Nazly Efredis Sánchez Peña

Última modificación: 04/06/2019


Keywords: Bioindicator; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Lichen; Potential of toxic equivalence; Vehicular traffic


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a group of organic compounds that comprise two or more fused aromatic rings, with carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic properties that represent a high risk to the health of humans.1 Due to the relatively stable molecular structure of PAHs, they tend to persist in the environment for long periods of time; Also, they have ubiquitous characteristics that can be found in different environmental spheres and are bioaccumulated in organisms such as lichens.2

Previous studies indicate the importance of lichens as bioindicators of air quality in urban and rural areas, as well as the emissions generated by vehicles as a main source of emissions of PAHs into the atmosphere.3

In this context, two sectors were studied in the city of Popayán with the objective of identifying the influence of vehicular traffic on the concentration of bioaccumulated PAHs in lichens of the Parmeliaceae family and their potential for toxic equivalence.For this, samples of liquids are collected along 1 km. In each sector of study of the city (Panamericana Highway and  Popayán - San José de Isnos). After their capture, the PAHs were extracted using an ultrasound bath with subsequent clean up. The analysis was performed using the gas chromatography technique coupled to mass spectrometry (GC / MS). Also, a vehicle count was carried out for 24 hours during 7 days in each sector.

In general terms, the preliminary results show that the lichen of the Parmeliaceae family is a good bioaccumulator of PAHs,It can also be used efficiently for the approximate determination of the Potential of Toxic Equivalence due to environmental exposure to carcinogenic contaminants and their relationship with vehicular flow.



[1] Ki-Hyun Kim, S. A. (2013). A Review of Airborne Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their Human Health Effects. Environment International, 10.

[2] Sofia Augusto, J. S. (2015). Tracking Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Lichens: It's All about the Algae. Environmental Pollution.

[3] Nascimbene, J., Tretiach, M., Corana, F., Schiavo, F. L., Kodnik, D., Dainese, M., & Mannucci, B. (2014). Patterns of traffic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon pollution in mountain areas can be revealed by lichen biomonitoring: A case study in the Dolomites (Eastern Italian Alps). Science of the Total Environment, 475, 90-96.