You are on page 1of 25

Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158

Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

Science of the Total Environment

journal hom e page: ww w.el sevie r. c o m /l ocate/ scitotenv


Moss bag biomonitoring: A methodological review

A. Ares a,, J.R. Aboal a, A. Carballeira a, S. Giordano b, P. Adamo c, J.A. Fernndez
a b c

Ecologa, Facultad de Biologa, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, c/ Lope Gmez de Marzoa sn 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain Dipartimento di Biologia Strutturale e Funzionale, Universit di Napoli Federico II, Complesso Universitario Monte S. Angelo, Via Cintia 4, 80126 Napoli, Italy Dipartimento di Scienze del Suolo, della Pianta, dell'Ambiente e delle Produzioni Animali, Universit di Napoli Federico II, Via Universit 100, 80055 Portici (NA), Italy

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history: Received 1 February 2012 Received in revised form 25 May 2012 Accepted 25 May 2012 Available online 21 June 2012 Keywords: Moss bags Active biomonitoring Air pollution Technique standardization

a b s t r a c t
Although the moss bag technique has been used for active biomonitoring for the past 40 years, there is still no standardized protocol that enables application of the technique as a tool to monitor air quality. The aim of this review paper is to evaluate the degree of standardization of each of the variables that must be considered in applying the technique (i.e. the variables associated with preparation of the moss and moss bags, exposure of the bags, and post-exposure treatment). For this purpose, 112 scientic papers that report the methods used in applying the moss bag technique were consulted. Finally, on the basis of the conclusions reached, we propose a protocol that will enable each of these variables to be investigated separately, with the nal aim of developing a standardized methodology. 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Contents 1. . . 2. . Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144 Selection and preparation of the moss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 2.1. Selection of species . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 2.2. Selection of material . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147 2.3. Pre-exposure treatment and vital state . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147 2.3.1. Washing with water . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147 2.3.2. Devitalizing treatments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147 2.3.3. Drying moss samples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148 Preparation of the transplants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148 3.1. Mesh net material . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 3.2. Mesh size . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 3.3. Moss bag shape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 3.4. Quantity of moss used and size of bags . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 3.5. Storage of bags . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 Exposure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 4.1. Irrigation systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150 4.2. Shading systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150 4.3. Shelter systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150 4.4. Positioning of moss bags . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150 4.5. Location and type of support used . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

3. .

4. . .

5. .

. 150 4.6. Height of exposure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 4.7. Duration of exposure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 4.8. Number of bags . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 4.9. Initial and control concentrations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152 Post exposure treatments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153

Corresponding author. Tel.: + 34 881816926; fax: + 34 981596904. E-mail address: (A. Ares).

0048-9697/$ see front matter 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.05.087


A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158

6. Conclusions and nal remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154 Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156 .

1. Introduction Monitoring the air for contaminants is a complex technical task, and techniques for monitoring atmospheric contamination have been the objects of intensive research in past decades (Helsen, 2005). In European countries, air quality measurement is based on physicochemical tech- niques. These techniques can provide accurate measurements of some principal atmospheric pollutants (mainly CO, SOx, NxOy, PAHs and par- ticulate matter) within relatively short periods (i.e. hours or days). How- ever, there are technical difculties in measuring other contaminants included in the European Parliament Directive (2008/107/EC) relating to air ambient quality (i.e. As, Cd, Hg, Ni, Pb), and analysis of these con- taminants in air is very expensive. These contaminants are potentially highly toxic, as demonstrated by toxicological and epidemiological studies (see e.g. Kongtip et al., 2006; Yang and Omaye, 2009). An alter- native way of monitoring these contaminants is to use terrestrial mosses (or other organisms) as biomonitors. The use of mosses enables simulta- neous monitoring of a large number of contaminants (i.e. metals and metalloids, PAHs, radionuclides) with the same sample, and also has other advantages over current methods (e.g. simplicity, reliability, cost effectiveness and the lack of the need for electricity). Furthermore, bio- monitoring with moss is inexpensive, and can provide a good prelimi- nary overview of the state of the air quality because dense sampling networks can be used. Nevertheless, there are some disadvantages asso- ciated with biomonitoring, such as the fact that information is only obtained after relatively long periods. Other disadvantages are discussed throughout the different sections of this review paper. Among the other terrestrial organisms employed so far as bio- monitors of air pollution, lichens have been often used in comparison with mosses. Despite lichens proved a better resistance to environ- mental stress, preserving or recovering their vitality during bio- monitoring, most studies have highlighted a lichen lower capacity to intercept and accumulate most of the airborne elements compared to mosses (Spagnuolo et al., 2011). Differences in surface structure have been suggested as one of the main factors explaining this diver- sity (Adamo et al., 2007). This review does not intend to compare moss with lichen biomonitoring, which alone deserves a specic ef- fort. Nevertheless, along the text some considerations on the peculiar performance ability of the lichens are emphasized. Two types of biomonitoring are clearly differentiated in the litera- ture on the use of mosses to evaluate atmospheric contamination: (i) passive biomonitoring, using moss that grow naturally in a partic- ular area, and (ii) active biomonitoring, by transplanting moss from other locations. Whilst the use of native moss is more appropriate for extensive studies in large areas (i.e. regional or national studies), active biomonitoring is more useful for intensive studies in smaller areas (i.e. urban or industrial areas). For active biomonitoring, moss samples are collected from relatively unpolluted habitats; they are then cleaned, selected and pre-treated before being exposed in a dif- ferent environment. The use of moss transplants resolves various problems associated with the use of native moss. Firstly, it overcomes the scarcity or absence of moss in certain environments (i.e. industrial and urban areas). Secondly, it reduces the high degree of variability in the uptake of contaminants by native moss within the same sampling site (Aboal et al., 2006; Fernndez et al., 2002). According to Castello (1996) and Varela et al. (2010), the coefcients of variation (CV) for a particular element are lower between replicates of moss transplants than between subsamples of native moss at a sampling site (e.g. the CV for Pb in moss bags ranged between 14 and 21% for 10 replicates

exposed for 2 months, in comparison with a CV that ranged between

33 and 93% for 50 samples of autochthonous moss collected at a sampling site). Thirdly, transplants can be used more conveniently for interpretation of the temporal variability in the results. When moss bags are used, the initial concentration and exposure period are known. However, the concentrations in native moss are assumed to represent the contam- ination corresponding to a particular site, without taking the temporal variability into account, and highly variable results have been obtained in short periods of time, i.e. 34 days (Boquete et al., 2011a). Fourthly, transplants minimize the possible edaphic inuence on the concentra- tions of certain elements (see e.g. Bargagli et al., 1995; Berg and Steinnes, 1997). Transplants are usually exposed at a certain height above the ground, but naturally growing moss is subjected to rain splash and accumulation of soluble soil compounds during periods when there is close contact between soil and water (Berg and Steinnes, 1997). Final- ly, any phenotypic and/or genotypic adaptation that may take place in contaminated environments will modify the tissue concentrations of contaminants (Fernndez et al., 2000; Fernndez and Carballeira, 2000; Tabors et al., 2004); this problem can be solved by transplanting moss from uncontaminated areas. The effect of contaminants on the physiology of native mosses is difcult to evaluate, and it is impossible to isolate their effects from those of other environmental variables. However, the use of irrigated moss transplants removes certain environmental stressors (e.g. hydric stress or stress from solar radiation), and thus isolates the effect of contamination. The moss bag technique is the most common type of active biomonitoring with terrestrial mosses that is reported in the literature. The technique, which was originally introduced by Goodman and Roberts (1971), involves exposure of moss samples held within mesh bags in order to monitor the presence of contaminants in the air. In the literature consulted (112 papers published between 1971 and 2011, lo- cated through SciVerse SCOPUS), the technique was mainly used to monitor levels of inorganic contaminants. Thus, most studies (86%) mon- itored levels of metals and metalloids, and far fewer monitored levels of organic contaminants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) (4% of the studies), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) (1%) and others (9%). Of the metals and metalloids studied, Pb was determined in 67 studies, followed by Zn (55), Cu (52), Cd (49), Fe (46) and Ni (43). However, although the moss bag technique has been used for approximately 40 years, standardized protocols have unfortunately still not been developed. Standardization of the following steps should be considered: (i) preparation of the moss; (ii) preparation of the trans- plants; (iii) exposure of the transplants; and (iv) post exposure treat- ment. The low degree of standardization reached in the technique is reected by the fact that some studies provide very little or contradictory information (e.g. Kupiainen and Tervahattu, 2004) or sometimes even inaccessible information (Lodenius, 1998) about the methods used. Some authors even claim to have used standardized transplants, al- though they have not followed the recommendations given in previously published papers (see e.g. Solga et al., 2006; Temple et al., 1981). The lack of such protocols hinders comparison of the results obtained in different studies, and sometimes limits the conclusions that can be reached. The rst authors to apply the technique (Goodman and Roberts, 1971) used procedures that were not based on the results of previous research. The rst modications were introduced only three years later (Little and Martin, 1974), and were followed by several other modications, so that several ways of applying the technique have been reported. These range from simple methods in which the moss tissues are barely handled (e.g. transplantation of moss mats, see e.g. Acar, 2006; Samecka-Cymerman and Kempers, 2007) to methods

A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158


involving complex pretreatment and exposure systems (see e.g. Amblard-Gross et al., 2002; Couto et al., 2004a; Rivera et al., 2011). As a result, many methods have been used only once by the same group of researchers. Furthermore, as some 68% of the authors have only published one paper on the topic, numerous methods have been reported (Fig. 1). Therefore, despite the advantages associated with the technique, its use has been limited to scientic research, and it has not been implemented by public authorities to monitor at- mospheric contamination. Moreover, use of the technique is largely limited to Europe (i.e. 80% of published papers; Fig. 2). Despite all of the above, several authors have focused their re- search on methodological aspects, with the aim of establishing a stan- dardized methodology. The rst studies of this type were carried out by Gailey and Lloyd (1986b,c,d), who investigated the relation be- tween weight and surface area of the moss, and the optimal time of exposure in moss bags (Fig. 3). Unfortunately, their conclusions were scarcely noted in subsequent studies. In the following years, very few studies addressed methodological questions, but from 2007 onwards (i.e. in 60% of the studies relating to the methodology; Fig. 3), a small number of researchers who addressed this problem focused their research on aspects such as the treatment of the moss prior to exposure (Adamo et al., 2007, 2008a; Giordano et al., 2009; Fernndez et al., 2010; Tretiach et al., 2007). The present review considers four key aspects in relation to standardization of the technique of active biomonitoring of air quality: (i) selection and preparation of the moss tissue; (ii) preparation of the transplants; (iii) exposure of the transplants; and (iv) post expo- sure treatment of the transplants. After reviewing and discussing the literature consulted, we discuss whether the particular stage of the process can be standardized or further research is required. The overall aim of the present paper was to review a series of articles dealing with the moss bag technique, in order to propose a standardized protocol for preparing and exposing moss transplants that meets the following requisites: (i) that the transplants are easy to prepare and handle; (ii) that they enable replicable results to be obtained; (iii) that they are capable of capturing high concentrations of as many contaminants as possible; and (iv) that they are efcient at capturing contaminants, and are capable of indicating their occur- rence in the air within a reasonable period of time. 2. Selection and preparation moss of the

Fig. 1. Number of papers on active biomonitoring of air quality with terrestrial moss, in relationship to number of authors.

Preparation of the moss prior to transplantation always includes selection of the species and usually selection of the portion of the shoot, as well as diverse pre-exposure treatments.


Number of papers




Number of authors

2.1. Selection of species The particular species used will greatly affect the results (Castello, 2007; Culicov and Yurukova, 2006), and comparable results may not be obtained with different species. However, although many different species (i.e. 45) have been used to date, in some cases this information is omitted (Tan et al., 2000) or only the genus is indicated (see e.g.: Carpi et al., 1994; Santamara and Martn, 1997; Wegener et al., 1992). Thus, approximately 55% of the species have only been used on one occasion. Given this diversity, we have grouped the genera to show the frequency with which they have been used in previous studies (Fig. 2). Moss bags have most often been prepared with species of the genus Sphagnum, followed by other genera widely used in Europe, rep- resented by Hypnum cupressiforme Hedw., Pseudoscleropodium purum (Hedw.) Fleisch and less often Pleurozium schreberi (Brid.) Mitt. and Hylocomium splendens (Hedw.) Schimp. The main reason for selecting a particular species appears to be its presence and abundance in the study region, which has enabled the simultaneous use of native and transplanted moss in some studies (see e.g. Fernndez and Carballeira, 2000; Kosior et al., 2008; Ratcliffe, 1975). Selection of the species should take the following criteria into consideration: (i) preference for widely distributed and pleurocarpous mosses; (ii) the selected species should have some structural and physicochemical characteristics that will allow efcient uptake of contaminants from the atmosphere; and (iii) the selected species should be one of the most commonly used and about which most in- formation exists. The availability of large specimens will facilitate handling (i.e. selection of the portion of shoot to be exposed, cleaning, etc.) and reduce the possibility of loss of material during exposure. In addition, the capacity of the different species of moss to capture contaminants depends on the following: (i) the morphology of the shoots, which determines the capacity of the moss to retain particles, as well as the circulation of gases and water around the tissues; (ii) the cation exchange capacity (CEC), which is mainly linked to the quantity of uronic acids in the cell wall and the outer parts of the cell membrane, and their degree of methylation (Carballeira et al., 2008; Richter and Dainty, 1989); and (iii) the specic surface area (i.e. m 2 1 kg ), as ob- viously the area exposed to the environment will increase with the surface area and roughness of the tissues. The capacity of the moss to accumulate elements will therefore increase with the number of phyllids per caulid (Sun et al., 2009). Clough (1975) concluded that the rough surface and hairiness of moss reduce subsequent removal of elements by blow-off, bounceoff and rain wash. Adamo et al. (2007) explained the higher efciency of metal accumulation in H. cupressiforme than in the lichen Pseudevernia furfuracea (L.) Zopf on the basis of the larger specic surface area of the moss (ranging between 81 and 136 m 2 1 kg ). Very few of the studies reviewed have compared the morphological and physicochemical characteristics of different transplanted species, and the only information available in this respect refers to the nal effect of these characteristics on the bioconcentration of elements after transplantation of the moss samples in the same locations within the same exposure periods. In regard to studies that compare the most commonly used types of moss, Ratcliffe (1975) concluded that the concentration of Pb in bags of H. cupressiforme was only 66% of that in bags of Sphagnum spp. This was conrmed by Culicov and Yurukova (2006) on comparing H. cupressiforme and Sphagnum girgensohnii Russow. Furthermore, Castello (2007) exposed spherical bags of H. cupressiforme and P. purum simultaneously in an industrial environment, and concluded that the latter was a better accumulator, showing similar or higher accumulation and lower loss of almost all elements than the former. Other authors such as eburnis and Valiulis (1999) demonstrated that there was no signicant difference between H. splendens and P. schreberi as regards quantitative uptake of metals. Tremper et al. (2004) compared P. schreberi and Rhytidiadelphus


A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158

4 9 1 6 99

12 43 2 2 14 1 11


Genera of moss used

Sphagnum sp. Hypnum sp. Pseudoscleropodium sp. Pleurozium sp. Hylocomium sp.

Genera employed in the world

Rhytidiadelphus sp. Thuidium sp. 1 Calyrnferes sp. Others

Frequency of use

29 9 10 13 16

2 4



<10 <20 >100

Fig. 2. Representation of the different genera of moss used in the active biomonitoring technique on different continents and throughout the world. The frequency of use of each genus in this type of study is indicated for each continent and on a global scale.

squarrosus (Hedw.) Warnst., and found higher concentrations of contaminants in P. schreberi. Finally, only one study (Yurukova and Ganeva, 1997) compared two species of the genus Sphagnum, namely Sphagnum teres (Schimp.) ngstr. and Sphagnum capillifolium (Ehrh.) Hedw., and concluded that the former exhibited a higher capacity for accumulation. In all of the above-mentioned studies the moss samples were assumed to be alive when exposed.

12 10

8 6 4 2 0


Fig. 3. Number of papers on active biomonitoring of air quality with terrestrial moss, published in different years. The columns represent the number of papers that address methodological aspects (white bars), and the number in which the technique is used to monitor contamination (grey bars).

There is an obvious need to select one species for standard use in moss bags as this would enable valid comparisons between monitoring data obtained in different environments. To enable the widespread use of a particular species, the best option would be to cultivate the species in the laboratory. Therefore, it is important that the species selected can be cultivated in the laboratory to produce a high biomass within a relatively short time. Laboratory culture of moss for use in the moss bag technique is one solution to the following problems associated with the use of naturally growing mosses: (i) the species chosen may not always be available in a particular study area (Adamo et al., 2008a) because of population uc- tuations or changes in the status of the species to be protected; (ii) dif- culties in eld identication (e.g. species of the genus Sphagnum) and taxonomic characterization (e.g. the H. cupressiforme complex; Smith, 1997), (iii) native moss is also highly heterogeneous, and both the phys- icochemical characteristics and the tissue concentrations of contami- nants uctuate over time, as well as between and within different locations. The heterogeneity of the material used implies a low level of replicability of results. The nal concentrations of elements will vary depending on the initial concentrations and/or the physicochemi- cal characteristics of the moss used for transplants, even though they are exposed to the same level of contamination. The isolation and cultivation of a specic clone to produce homogeneous material for the moss bags would solve these problems. A clone of aquatic moss has been isolated for use in biomonitoring the quality of continental waters (Rausch de Traubenberg and AhPeng, 2004). More recently, a clone of the terrestrial moss Ceratodon purpureus (Hedw.) Brid. has been isolated for use in moss bags (Fabure et al., 2010). Unfortunately, we did not nd any information about laboratory culture of any of the commonly used moss species.

Number of papers









A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158


However, culture of Physcomitrella patens (Hedw.) Bruch & Schimp. (by vegetative propagation of the lamentous juvenile protonema tissue in suspension culture) has been optimized, thereby enabling large scale production of biomass of the species for biotechnological purposes (Decker and Reski, 2004, 2007, 2008). However, both C. purpureus and P. patens are small acrocarpous species and their morphology and size may determine structural characteristics (i.e. surface area to mass ratio) that would make them unsuitable for han- dling and capture of contaminants. With the available information regarding the moss species most commonly used in active biomonitoring, any of the most common biomonitoring genus (Fig. 2) are suitable for the use as a standard but species of the genus Sphagnum best t the criteria for the suitability of moss species in the moss bags technique. They are of a suitable size for han- dling and have been cloned (Sstad et al., 1998), although they have not been cultivated for use in moss bags. The physicochemical proper- ties of Sphagnum also favour their use: the leaves constitute about two thirds of the dry biomass and provide a very large surface area for cation exchange processes and capture of ne airborne particles (Bargagli, 1998); the hyalocysts have large pores that can trap airborne particulate (Giordano et al., 2005); and the cation exchange capacity has been esti- mated to be 0.91.5 meq g 1 dry weight (i.e. higher 1 than that of other mosses: 0.61.1 meq g )(Temple et al., 1981). 2.2. Selection of material Once a particular species has been selected for use in the moss bag technique, the next step is to decide which portion of the shoots should be used. The results may vary depending on the material selected, be- cause the older parts of the stems will contain different amounts of some elements than younger tissues (Tavares and Vasconcelos, 1996; Leblond et al., 2004; Fernndez et al., 2010). However, this information was not provided in 56% of all the papers reviewed, and in the other pa- pers (44%) the following options were chosen: apical portions of the shoots (19.4%), green parts (10.2%) and entire shoots (14.3%). The aim of selecting the material is to obtain transplant material that is as homogeneous as possible. The shoots of naturally growing moss are highly variable in size, and therefore the portion of older and green parts will also vary. As the concentrations in these portions will differ (see above), and their capacity for bioconcentration will probably also differ, the use of whole shoots should be discounted. Despite the different substrates and exposure to atmospheric deposition, green shoots of epiphytic and epilithic H. cupressiforme from the same site show a rather homogeneous chemical composition (CV b 20%) as regards most major and trace elements, with the main exceptions being concentrations of Cr and Ni (CV 43 to 57%) (Adamo et al., 2008a). The concentrations of Cd, Mg and Zn were higher in the epilithic moss, which is more exposed to soil and rock dust, than in moss that grow on tree trunks. Different authors argue in favour of the use of apical portions of similar size (Fernndez and Carballeira, 2000; Gailey and Lloyd, 1986b; Gill et al., 1975; Little and Martin, 1974) because the exclusive use of such portions eliminates one source of variability and ensures comparable ex- posure times. However, no authors have argued in favour of the use of whole shoots. There are two disadvantages associated with the use of whole shoots. Firstly, their variable size implies that the capacity for ac- cumulation will also vary due to the heterogeneous nature of the mate- rial; secondly, identication of the green part is somewhat subjective. The availability of green shoots of similar size and with similar concentrations of elements and capacity for bioconcentration is another potential advantage associated with the use of laboratorycultured moss. 2.3. Pre-exposure treatment and vital state

Once the material has been selected, it can either be treated or not treated prior to exposure. As the vital state of the moss (live or dead)

will depend on the prior treatment, both aspects will be considered together. The aim of such treatment is to obtain transplants with similar and well dened initial features (similar morphology, well- characterized initial contents of contaminants, comparable physiologi- cal status; Giordano et al., 2009), and to maximize the bioconcentration capacity (Gailey and Lloyd, 1986b). In 81% of the papers reviewed, a treatment prior to exposure was carried out. Some of the treatments used (acid washing and/or oven drying) lead to death of the moss. When the moss is subjected to some type of pre-exposure treatment, in 78% of the cases the moss samples were exposed in a live state, and in 32% the moss samples were killed. The sum of these percentages is greater than 100% because both options were sometimes used in the same study. 2.3.1. Washing with water Independent of the vital state of the moss when exposed, any preexposure treatment generally included washing with water (72% of the papers). The objectives of washing are: (i) to clean the moss of edaphic particles and/or plant remains, so that the initial concentration of elements is as homogeneous as possible (Tretiach et al., 2007; Adamo et al., 2008a), and (ii) to partially activate the tissues, by removing some elements bound to cation exchange sites on the cell wall and membrane (Fernndez et al., 2010). The outcome of the washing step is determined by diverse param- eters: (i) number of washes; (ii) duration of washing; (iii) use (or not) of shaking; (iv) type of water; and (v) relation between the weight of the moss and the volume of water. However, information about all of these parameters was only reported in one of the papers reviewed (Tretiach et al., 2007), whereas in 42% of the papers, none of the above parameters was specied. The number of washes, the most specic aspect (53%), ranged between 1 and 7, with the most com- mon being 3 (47%) and 7 (22%). The duration of washing was only reported in 10% of the studies, and was extremely variable (ranging between one minute and overnight), and also varied when more than one washing step was included. Shaking during washing was only applied in 12% of the studies, and details of the intensity were not provided. The type of water was not usually specied (25%), but when specied it was usually distilled (80%) or bidistilled (13%). In one study, methanol was used in addition to distilled and bidistilled water to wash the samples (Strachan and Glooschenko, 1988). Finally, in the few studies in which the weight of the moss portions in relation to the volume of water was specied, it was 100 g dw per 10 L of water (Adamo et al., 2007, 2008a,b; Giordano et al., 2009, 2010; Tretiach et al., 2007, 2011). Taking into account all of the above, there is not sufcient evidence to enable selection of the optimal values of the parameters considered. In any case, even when the moss is washed with water before exposure and is expected to perform as a living organism, the samples sometimes die during exposure, as a consequence of dry and stressful environmental conditions (Adamo et al., 2003; Giordano et al., 2005; Tretiach et al., 2007). Accumulation of gaseous S, N and C contaminants is greatly inuenced by the vitality of the biomonitor (Vingiani et al., 2004). In papers in which live vs. dead mosses and lichens were compared as active biomonitors, living materials did not generally show a better performance than dead materials (Adamo et al., 2007). Water washed lichens and mosses had statistically lower or statistically not sig- nicant increments in their trace element content after exposure in two Italian cities, Trieste and Naples. An interesting pattern was detected with respect to C and N, because only water washed lichens (whose vitality was not excessively affected by exposure, see Tretiach et al., 2007), signicantly accumulate C and N during the exposure period. 2.3.2. Devitalizing treatments The use of live or dead moss depends on the objective of the particular study, which may be to biomonitor atmospheric contamination or to study the effects of such contamination on moss. For the


A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158

rst objective, devitalization enables the efciency of contaminant capture to remain constant, as capture is mainly due to passive uptake processes that are independent of the vitality of the moss (Anii et al., 2009a, 2009b; Basile et al., 2009; Giordano et al., 2009). These pro- cesses also include the cation exchange capacity and the capacity for particle retention. The latter is of great interest in urban and industrial areas where particulate forms predominate in emissions (Castello, 2007), and the technique is frequently used in such areas. On the other hand, the use of dead samples has some advantages over the use of live moss: (i) from a practical point of view, moss bags can be pre-prepared and will therefore be readily available at all times; (ii) the results will be less variable (Adamo et al., 2007; Castello, 1996; Gailey and Lloyd, 1986d; Giordano et al., 2009); and (iii) moss metabolism will not affect the results (Giordano et al., 2009). In the latter respect, Fernndez et al. (2010) have recently demonstrated that growth of P. purum during the exposure period affects metal uptake and generates differences in the concentrations depending on the mea- sured element. Some elements (i.e. Cd, Cu and Zn) show higher concen- tration in the portion grown during the exposure period whereas other elements (i.e. Hg and V) show higher concentration in the original portions, independently of contaminant uptake during the exposure period. Although some attention had already been given to devitalizing treatments in the past (Castello, 1996; Gailey and Lloyd, 1986b; Tavares and Vasconcelos, 1996), this has increased in recent years (Adamo et al., 2007, 2008a, 2011; Giordano et al., 2009; Tretiach et al., 2007). Acid washing. Acid washing (also called activation) is the devitalizing treatment most commonly used (25% of all studies and 78% of the studies in which the moss samples are dead). This treatment consists of immersion of the selected moss material in an acid medium, with the aim of leaching metal ions from the cell walls (Adamo et al., 2007; Castello, 1996; Gailey and Lloyd, 1986d) and dis- rupting biological membranes (Brown and Brown, 1991; Brown and Wells, 1988). This regenerates the cation exchange sites present on the cell wall (i.e. converts them into hydrogen (H +) form), with the aim of increasing the bioconcentration capacity of the exposed moss. Adamo et al. (2007) showed that for H. cupressiforme, acid washing can reduce the Pb present by up to 96%, relative to oven dried samples, and by 94% relative to samples washed with water. As noted for washing with water, the results of the acid treatment are determined by various parameters: (i) number of washes; (ii) du- ration of washing; (iii) use (or not) of shaking; (iv) acid used and concentration; and (v) ratio between the weight of the moss and the volume of the acid solution. In 26% of the studies in which the samples are washed in acid solutions, none of the above parameters was specied. The most common method is a single washing step, and in only 11% of the studies, the samples were washed 3 times. The duration of the washing step was only specied in 19% of the studies, and was extremely variable ranging between 1 and 96 h in total (including all washing steps). No studies specied whether the samples were shaken during treatment. The acid most commonly used is HNO3; the concentrations used range between 0.025 and 1 M, with 0.5 M being the most commonly used (in 54% of the studies). The next most commonly used acid is HCl; concentrations of between 0.01 and 0.5 M are used, with the latter concentration the most commonly used in the studies in which this was specied (80%). With the exception of the study by Adamo et al. (2007), in which 1 mL of 1 M HNO3 solution was used for 2 mg of moss material, no other studies specied the ratio between the weight of the moss and the volume of the acid solution. Oven drying. The use of oven drying as a method of devitalizing the moss is much less common (7% of all studies and 23%

of studies in which moss maintaining the material

is dead); the method consists of

in an oven at a high temperature (> 100 C) for 24 h. Although the aim of this treatment is to devitalize the moss, the moss may actually be activated by this treatment as some of the metals may be volatized at high temperatures. In 86% of cases, the method recommended by Giordano et al. (2009), i.e. drying the moss at 120 C for 24 h, was followed. In some studies in which temperatures between 40 and 50 C were used (Dmuchowski and Bytnerowicz, 2009; Rivera et al., 2011), it was not clear if the aim of the drying process was to devitalize the moss. The advantages of oven-drying over acid washing have been described by Giordano et al. (2009): (i) it is eco-friendly, and (ii) it leaves the particular morphology of the moss and leaet arrangement virtually unaltered, without changing the capacity for capture. Washing with acid notably deteriorates the moss, leading to rupture of the tis- sues. However, the disadvantage of oven-drying is that the shoots of some mosses, such as Sphagnum, become brittle and the small leaf frag- ments tend to fall off the stem. In our experience, drying mosses inside the mesh bags by gradually increasing the temperature (to 120 C) min- imizes the loss of material. Another disadvantage is that drying does not release metals bound to cation exchange sites. This may be resolved by the use of chelating agents such as EDTA (Lodenius and Tulisalo, 1984), penicillamine and/or dimercaprol (Prez-Llamazares et al., 2010) prior to washing with water (see Section 2.3.1). Comparison of the different pre-exposure treatments (washing with water, acid washing and oven-drying) applied to H. cupressiforme did not reveal any trends in terms of the efciency of accumulation of chemical elements, i.e. it was not possible to identify the optimal treat- ment. This has been attributed to the fact that the surface texture remains basically unchanged after oven-drying and acid washing, as surface interception of air-borne particulate is likely to play a major role in accumulation in moss transplants in the urban environment (Adamo et al., 2007; Tretiach et al., 2007). 2.3.3. Drying moss samples In many of the studies (41%), the nal step in preparing the material prior to producing the moss bags consists of drying at low temperature (ranging from room temperature to 40 C), which does not cause death of the moss. The aim of this drying procedure is to remove excess moisture that may remain on the moss after washing with water or acid (see Sections 2.3.1 and In almost all of the papers reviewed, no information was given about either the tem- perature or the duration of the drying step. 3. Preparation of the transplants Preparation of the moss transplants usually involves placing the moss in some type of support (e.g. a mesh net bag), although in some cases moss mats are transplanted (7% of studies). In the latter case, preparation of the transplants, handling of which should be minimal, consists of extracting a portion of the moss from a certain area (usually unpolluted zones) and transplanting it in another area (usually contaminated zones). The transplanted moss can be placed within a frame, e.g. made of wood (Naszradi et al., 2004) or polyeth- ylene (Boquete et al., 2011b), or can be placed among the native veg- etation without any type of frame (e.g. Huttunen et al., 1981). Such transplants are often used to evaluate the degree of adaptation of na- tive moss to the contamination in a particular area (see e.g. Kosior et al., 2008, 2010; Tabors et al., 2004). Therefore, the aim of such studies is different from that of moss bag studies, and the methodology is more similar to that used with native moss monitoring. When preparation of the transplants involves placing the moss in a mesh net bag, the results obtained will be affected by the characteristics of the bag. Such characteristics include the composition and size of the mesh net, the form and size of the bag and the use of auto irrigation systems. The different alternatives for each of these characteristics, as reported in the literature, are reviewed in the fol- lowing sections.

A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158


3.1. Mesh net material The composition of the mesh net material is usually specied (91%), and is usually a type of plastic such as nylon (71%), polypropyl- ene (5%), polyethylene (3%) or non-specied plastic (17%). The mate- rials are usually produced commercially for diverse uses such as hair nets or mosquito nets. Selection of materials such as plastic or glass bre is more suitable than other less frequently used materials such as cotton (3%) or metal (1%), which may minimally interfere with the uptake process. The mesh nets are sometimes washed with dilute acid before preparing the transplants, to remove trace contaminants (Fernndez et al., 2000). This particularly applies to mosquito nets, which are sometimes impregnated with insect repellents. Finally, the bags are usually closed with nylon bre.

3.4. Quantity of moss used and size of bags In planning experiments with moss bags, the following should be considered: i) verication of the availability in natural environment of sufcient moss material with reference to the experimental design (i.e. number of point measures planned); ii) ensuring enough material because of analytical constraints and (also because of) iii) loss of material during the exposure. Temple et al. (1981) reported an average weight loss of 15% in moss (Sphagnum sp.) due to laboratory handling and deterioration of samples in the eld. Gailey and Lloyd (1986b) reported that the optimal amount of moss that should be included in each bag is 100200 mg. However, larger amounts are preferred to ensure sufcient material for chemical analysis (and where repetition of the analysis is necessary) and to overcome the loss of material during handling and exposure. Quantities of between 400 and 500 mg per bag are often used (e.g. Adamo et al., 2003; Tretiach et al., 2007; Giordano et al., 2009). According to Adamo et al. (2007), the efciency of metal accumulation by different biomaterials could be better compared by expressing the element content of the biomonitor on a surface area basis rather than on a weight basis. Therefore, comparable amounts of different moss species in terms of specic surface area, expressed 2 _1 in m kg , may be useful for dening the amounts that should be used. Once the amount of moss material has been established, the size and shape of the bag must be selected. The size of the bag determines the ratio between the weight of the moss and the surface area of the bag. This ratio will affect the efciency with which the transplants capture contaminants from the atmosphere. However, this information is only provided in one of the 112 studies reviewed (Lodenius and Tulisalo, 1984), and in most studies (58%) the ratio could not be calculated from the information given. In those studies in which the ratio could be calculated (mg cm 2), it was fairly similar: b 40 (76%), 4070 (9%), 70110 (9%) and > 110 (5%). For most contaminants, the optimal size of the bag must enhance moss interception and uptake capability as well as replicability of the results. Different authors (Gailey and Lloyd, 1986a; Zechmeister et al., 2006b) recommend that the moss should be loosely packed in thin layers as this minimizes overlapping and compression of the moss shoots, and enables even exposure of the material to the contami- nants. In fact, when the shoots overlap, the concentrations will de- crease gradually. In this respect, Temple et al. (1981) exposed at bags with moss weight/bag surface area ratios of 10, 20, 30 40 and 50 mg cm 2, and found that the bags with a weight/surface area ratio of 30 mg cm 2 were the most suitable for the maximum uptake.

3.2. Mesh size Of the papers reviewed, 45% did not specify the mesh size. In the remaining papers, the distribution of the mesh size (in size classes, 2 mm ) is extremely variable: b 1 (4%), 12 (36%), 24 (14%), 45 (28%), 410 (6%), 10100 (4%), 100150 (8%), and 150250 (2%). Selection of the mesh size is a compromise between maximization of the interception of aerial deposition and minimization of the risk of loss of material. Inadequate selection of the mesh size may lead to loss of large amounts of moss as a result of wind action on the mesh bags. For Sphagnum moss, such losses were quantied by Strachan and Glooschenko (1988) as between 50 and 75% of the initial amount. The thickness of the mesh may also affect the capture of contami- nants by the moss because the mesh may intercept and retain partic- ulate material (Adamo et al., 2008b; Archibold, 1985; Cameron and Nickless, 1977; Zechmeister et al., 2006a). In a recent work, lichen samples exposed without nylon bag (naked lichen), showed a lower accumulation of most analyzed elements than lichens exposed in bags (water washed lichens), although the difference was not statis- tically signicant. Nevertheless, the coefcient of variation of element concentration was higher in naked lichen than in water washed lichen, suggesting the net has a homogenising effect on element accumulation, probably acting as a sieve for airborne particulates, and enhancing the bouncing off of the largest fraction (Giordano et al., 2012).

3.3. Moss bag shape Although a wide variety of shapes of moss bags are used, these can be grouped in three categories: spherical moss bags (36% of studies), at, square or rectangular moss bags (23%), and cylindrical moss bags (3%). The shape of the bag was not specied in 39% of the papers reviewed. The advantage of three-dimensional bags (i.e. spherical and cylindrical) is that they allow uniform collection efciency from all directions, whilst permitting collection by gravitational sedimen- tation (Little and Martin, 1974). In two dimensional bags (i.e. at moss bags), exposure of the moss to the atmosphere is more uniform, and capture of elements from the atmosphere is improved by the use of some type of system to prevent displacement of the moss further inside the bag (e.g. by sewing the bag to make compartments). This prevents the moss from being attened on the bottom of the bag under certain conditions (e.g. rain, wind, etc.). The only study in which these types of bags are compared was that carried out by Gailey and Lloyd (1986d), who concluded that the moss in spherical bags captured higher concentrations of metals. The shape of the bags in auto irrigated transplants (see Section 4.1) is determined by the type of auto irrigation system used. This system is sometimes included within the bag (e.g. Couto et al., 2004a).

3.5. Storage of bags Once the transplants are prepared, they are stored before being exposed in the study area. Although information about storage of moss bags is scant, some authors recommend storing the moss bags in individual sealed plastic bags (with e.g. a zip-lock system) to prevent loss of material and contamination of the samples. Regarding to the storage temperature of the samples, low temperatures (i.e. 20 C) seems to be the adequate to prevent any degradation by bacterial activity (Morita et al., 1997).

4. Exposure The prepared transplants are exposed using different systems of irrigation, shading and cover, type of support, location, height and duration of the exposure and number of bags exposed. The combination of all these options will affect the nal concentrations of contaminants in the moss. As several different combinations are reported in

the literature, the options will be considered separately.


A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158

4.1. Irrigation systems Moss samples are usually exposed live (in 65% of the studies reviewed). An irrigation system was used to keep the moss alive dur- ing the period of exposure in only 23% of such studies. Although some authors use non irrigated transplants (e.g. Cameron and Nickless, 1977; Hynninen, 1986; Lodenius and Tulisalo, 1984), many others consider that this method is not valid. The main problem is that non irrigated transplants tend to dry out and thus their efciency in retaining metals will vary depending on environmental conditions (Giordano et al., 2009), such as air humidity, precipitation, solar radi- ation, wind intensity, etc. (Tyler, 1990). In some studies, higher con- centrations of metals have been detected in wet seasons than in dry seasons (Adamo et al., 2003; Giordano et al., 2009; Tavares and Vasconcelos, 1996). However, the velocity of deposition may be higher in dry moss bags than in wet moss bags because the more open structure of dry moss bags provides a larger effective surface area for deposition (Clough, 1975), although for particles of > 5 m diameter, deposition velocities are higher in wet moss bags due to re- duced bounce-off of particles from the wet surface. Some authors have reported death of the moss during the exposure period (Basile et al., 2009; Goodman and Roberts, 1971; Huttunen et al., 1981; Tavares and Vasconcelos, 1996; Tretiach et al., 2007). This would lead to a change in the capacity of the moss to capture contaminants at some time during the exposure period, thus preventing comparison of the results obtained under different environmental conditions (i.e. in time and space). Vingiani et al. (2004) demonstrated that, unlike trace elements, which are mainly accumulated by moss trans- plants through passive processes of retention, the accumulation of S, N and C by mosses is mainly based on active intake of gaseous forms of contaminants (i.e. SOx, NOx, CO and VOCs). The alternative to using live, non-irrigated transplants is to use irrigated transplants. As already indicated, metal uptake is affected by the moss metabolism, and exposure of the irrigated moss is only recommended when the aim is to study biological variables (e.g. enzyme activity, photosynthesis, etc.). Two types of irrigation systems can be applied. The rst, auto irrigation, was introduced by Al-Radady et al. (1993); this system involves placing the moss on a capillary mat con- nected to a container, usually made of plastic, full of water. In some studies the moss is placed directly on a capillary mat and both are placed in a mesh bag (Amblard-Gross et al., 2002; Couto et al., 2004a), whilst in other studies the mesh bag containing the moss is placed on the capillary mat (e.g. Al-Radady et al., 1993; Anii et al., 2009b). Higher concentrations have been detected in auto irrigated Sphagnum girgensohnii samples than in dry samples (Anii et al., 2009b), possibly because the speed of deposition of particles is much higher on wet moss bags than on dry ones (Clough, 1975). The second type of irrigation system, possibly less practically applica- ble, is to spray the moss bags with distilled water once a week (Basile et al., 2008) or twice a week (Mariet et al., 2011).

exterior, and also generates a higher degree of heterogeneity within the steel frame (due to e.g. dripping points).

4.2. Shading systems In six of the studies in which auto irrigated transplants were used, the samples were placed in a steel frame and covered with a shading net, to reduce environmental and hydric stressors, such as direct solar radiation (reduced by up to 70%) and wind (Aboal et al., 2008; Couto et al., 2004a,b; Fernndez and Carballeira, 2000; Fernndez et al., 2010; Skert et al., 2009). The aim of removing environmental stressors is to enable clearer identication of relationships between the concentrations of certain contaminants in moss tissues and their effect on different physiological variables. On the other hand, use of this type of shading net varies the inputs of contaminants relative to the

4.3. Shelter systems In a number of cases, when the objective is to quantify only the dry deposition (11% of the studies reviewed), shelters or covered sites (e.g. below balconies; Rivera et al., 2011) are used to prevent ex- posure of the moss bags to wet deposition and/or loss by leaching of some of the retained contaminants (Couto et al., 2004a; Zechmeister et al., 2006a,b). Several different systems are used to cover the bags, including PVC sheets (Fabure et al., 2010), plastic containers such as plant pots (Lodenius, 1998; Sun et al., 2009), and inverted funnels (Xiao et al., 1998). The use of covers to prevent exposure of the moss to wet deposition does not necessarily imply that the dry deposition can be accurately quantied. Use of a cover also prevents the largest particles reaching the moss, and may alter the dynamics of particle deposition (Little, 1977). Likewise, covers will also alter the form and intensity with which the wind affects the moss samples (Tavares and Vasconcelos, 1996), and thus inuence bioconcentration of the contaminants (e.g. loss of previously retained particles). Only one study has used high sided sheltering (AmblardGross et al., 2002), which allows vertical atmospheric deposition onto the moss from the open circular area around the moss, and prevents in- uence on lateral capture from the wind. 4.4. Positioning of moss bags The way in which the moss bags are positioned will only affect at bags, as uptake occurs in all directions in spherical bags (Goodman and Roberts, 1971). The position of at bags must be considered in relation to the ground (i.e. horizontal or vertical) and the focal point of contamination. Flat bags are usually positioned vertically, which enable the capture of contaminants present in the air (gases and small particles with low sedimentation rates) from the horizontal wind ow on to the bags. Horizontal positioning of bags, which is less common (in 33 studies), increases the capture of contaminants by gravitational sedimentation and wet deposition (Goodman et al., 1975). The latter requires installation of some type of complex support (see Section 4.5); this is a practical disadvantage compared with the vertical arrangement, which usually involves simpler systems. The orientation of the bags relative to the source of contamination is only important in vertically positioned bags, and is not mentioned in most studies. The orientation of the bags relative to the source of contamination has been taken into account when using transplants to monitor isolated focal points of contamination. This enables the at surface of the bag to be directed towards the source being monitored (Temple et al., 1981). Gailey and Lloyd (1986b) showed that results obtained with vertically positioned bags of Sphagnum spp. (which were washed with acid and not oriented exactly perpendicular to the main source of airborne metals) were less replicable than those obtained with perpendicularly positioned bags. As with hori- zontally positioned bags, some type of support must be used to orient vertically positioned bags, which is a practical complication. In light of the above, it is clear that the orientation of vertically positioned bags in relation to the focal point of contamination must be taken into account (i.e. perpendicular to the focal point or another specic orientation). 4.5. Location and type of support used The moss bags should be placed as far as possible from obstacles (e.g. buildings, vegetation, etc.) that may interfere in the exposure of the moss to atmospheric contaminants. Once the site is selected, the moss bags are suspended (e.g. by a nylon bre) at a certain height (see Section 4.6) from different structures (e.g. trees, lamp posts, etc.), by use of different types of supports. The supports (e.g. plastic tubes, glass bre poles, etc.) should be made from inert materials

A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158


that are not affected by the contaminants under study, and do not release contaminants during exposure. They should maintain the moss bags separate from each other and as far as possible from structures, in order to prevent effects such as screening or dripping. Although the moss bags were suspended from vegetation in 15 of the studies, this option should not be used; vegetation is not inert and it may shield the moss from atmospheric contaminants and also exert a concentration effect due to dripping from leaves and twigs onto the bags (Little and Martin, 1974). In some cases, more complex supports (see Section 4.4) have been used to suspend moss bags (Tretiach et al., 2007; Makholm and Mladenoff, 2005; Temple et al., 1981). For example, Temple et al. (1981), constructed a special U-shaped support in which the rectan- gular moss bags are inserted into a sleeve; a notch in the support pre- vents the holder (and therefore the moss bag) from turning about its vertical axis; this allows the at surface of the bag to be directed to- wards the source being monitored. Tretiach et al. (2007) used two complex types of lattice arrangements to expose bags on the roof of automated air quality monitoring stations located in urban areas in Italy; several bags containing different biomaterials, including moss, were arranged on the lattices so that the bags did not overlap and the same number of bags faced each cardinal direction. 4.6. Height of exposure There is great variability as regards the height of exposure of the moss bags, ranging from ground level (see e.g. Huttunen et al., 1981; Samecka-Cymerman and Kempers, 2007) to almost 30 m (Culicov et al., 2005; Rivera et al., 2011). The information is usually provided (82% of studies) and varies as follows: b 4 m (82%); 47.5 m (9%); 7.511.5 m (4%), and > 11.5 m (5%). The differences in height affect the results because air-ow and turbulence vary enor- mously with height above the ground, which greatly inuences the amounts of contaminants collected (Adamo et al., 2011). The latter authors found that at low heights (4 m), the contamination detected in a narrow street in an urban area of Naples was related to emissions from trafc and suspended dust from roads, whereas at higher heights (12 and 20 m), the movement of air masses favoured accu- mulation of elements originating from long-distance transport and cations of marine origin. Different factors must be taken into consideration when selecting the height of exposure. These include the objectives of the study (Little and Martin, 1974) (e.g. assessment of the quantities of contam- inants inhaled by people from the air) and practical aspects (e.g. the availability of supports from which to suspend the bags and the need to suspend the bags at a sufcient height to prevent loss through vandalism). 4.7. Duration of exposure There is also a great deal of variability as regards the period of exposure of the moss bags, and this has been one of most frequently studied aspects (see e.g. Basile et al., 2009; Gailey and Lloyd, 1986d; Ratcliffe, 1975; Tremper et al., 2004; Vasconcelos and Tavares, 1998). The duration of exposure ranges between 1 week (see e.g. Tavares and Vasconcelos, 1996) and 20 months (Evans and Hutchinson, 1996). This information is provided in almost all studies (98%) and varies as follows: b 1 month (13%); 1b 2 months (41%); 2b 3 months (23%); 3b 6 months (16%), and > 6 months (7%). Ratcliffe (1975) proposed a series of criteria in order to determine the most appropriate length of exposure for the accumulation of most contaminants: (i) detectable accumulated concentrations; (ii) reliable values (i.e. high replicability); and (iii) an exposure period within the limits of practical considerations. The concentrations of element in moss should also increase almost linearly over the expo-

sure period.

In order to evaluate the above criteria, the moss bags were ex- posed for different periods of time after the same starting point in several studies (28%). The replicability of results generally tended to increase with the time of exposure of the moss transplants. For studies in which a minimum of three exposure periods were tested, the differences in the coefcients of variation (CV) of the concen- trations of contaminants are shown in Fig. 4. In general terms, irrespective of other factors (e.g. species, pre-exposure treatment, shape of bag, etc.), no trends in the CV were observed after 3045 days of exposure, and the variations tended to be lower for higher concentrations (usually b 20%). The largest uctuations in the CV were observed for contaminants present at low concentrations (i.e. Ni and Cr; Gailey and Lloyd, 1986d; Fig. 4). However, the most marked decrease in the CVs corresponded to the shortest exposure periods (i.e. 3045 days for Cu, Fe, Mn, Pb and Zn; Gailey and Lloyd, 1986d; Fig. 4), reaching below 20% for most elements. For studies in which a minimum of three exposure periods were considered, and without taking into account other factors such as the species etc., we have plotted the rate of uptake of contaminants against the time of exposure (Fig. 5). The uptake of contaminants by the moss was not linearly related to the exposure period. Moreover, the rate rarely depended on time (for exceptions see the following: Cu and Fe in Vasconcelos and Tavares, 1998; Cd and Mn in Anii et al., 2009a), and the greatest changes were observed during the rst exposure period. The concentrations of contaminants in the moss tissues often increased with the exposure time, although there was sometimes a negative relationship (e.g. for Cr, Ni, Pb and Zn: Gailey and Lloyd, 1986d). The lack of a relation between the rate of uptake and the time of exposure may depend on diverse factors (Anii et al., 2008). Firstly, there may be differences in the atmospheric levels of the contaminants during the different exposure periods. Secondly, the weather conditions (e.g. wind, rain, etc.) may affect pollutant availability (e.g. via solubilization) as well as the impact of airborne particles and their interception, and may also modify the uptake capacity of non-irrigated moss samples (see Sections 2.3.2 and 4.1). For example, during 6-week exposure periods in the same urban environment during spring in two consecutive years, the accumulation of elements by H. cupressiforme increased during wetter weather and when concentrations of airborne particulate matter (PM10) were higher (Giordano et al., 2009). The latter authors also observed that moss bags exposed for a 12-week period accumulated higher concentrations of elements than the sum of those accumulated in two consecutive 6-week periods, indicating that in the study area (with low pollution levels) neither 6- or 12-week exposure caused saturation of the biomatrix capacity to retain elements. On the basis of the above ndings, we propose use of an exposure period of between 30 and 45 days. This ensures accumulation of elements and adequate replicability of the results, and is also feasible from a practical point of view (and in fact is the most commonly used exposure period reported in the literature consulted). Moreover, when a relationship between the uptake and exposure time exists, the slope of the corresponding regression line is usually steepest within this period. 4.8. Number of bags The number of moss bags exposed in active biomonitoring studies is very variable and ranges between 1 and 30. Although replicate bags were included in most studies (n = 23 in 28% of the studies, n = 4 in 13% of the studies, n = 5 in 7% of the studies, n = 6b 15 in 9% of the studies and n = > 15 in 4% of the studies), a large proportion (39%) of the studies did not include replicates. One way of selecting the most suitable number of moss bags is to consider the level of error allowed in estimating the mean concentrations of contaminants in the moss tissues. If it is assumed that the concentrations are normally distributed among bags exposed at the


A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158







0.0 1.5




Coefficient of variation (CV)



0.0 1.5





0.0 1.5 0 30 60 90 120 150

Basile et al. (2008) U


Galey & Lloyd (1986) U


Basile et al. (2009) I Basile et al. (2009) A

0.0 0 30 60 90 120 150 0 30 60 90 120 150

Time (days)
Fig. 4. Changes in the coefcients of variation (CV) of the concentrations of contaminants in different studies with moss bags over time for each metal. The following are indicated beside each study: the number of replicates used in each study, the species used and the area where the study was carried out. In each graph, the level corresponding to the 20% error is represented by a dotted line (I = industrial; A = agricultural; U = urban; Scc = Scorpiurum circinatum; Sg = Sphagnum girgensohnii; SSp = Sphagnum sp.).

same place as replicates (unfortunately this information is not available in the only study in which n = 30; Anii et al., 2009a) and the mean and standard deviation are known, the number of replicate bags that will provide a certain percentage of error can be calculated ([N = (t 2 2) / (D2 2)], where 2 and are the variance and mean of the data; D is the level of error assumed and t in the value of the sta- tistics in a Student's t test at the 5% signicance level). The number of bags required for errors of 10, 15 and 20% (calculated from data avail- able in the literature), for exposure periods of 30 and 3060 days (chosen on the basis of the information in Section 4.7) is shown in Tables 1 and 2 respectively. In some cases the number of bags re- quired is extremely high (much higher than 50: i.e. n > 4000 for an error of 10%) because of the large difference in the concentrations in the bags exposed together. For some elements, such as Cr, Hg and Pb, several replicate bags (i.e. n > 10) are required for both periods, unlike for other elements such as Al, Fe, and Mn. In general terms, the concentrations of elements in the moss bags exposed for periods of 3060 days were less variable than in bags exposed for 30 days, as indicated by the modal values shown in both tables. The maximum modal numbers of bags for all elements, corresponding to sampling

errors of 10, 15 and 20%, were 7, 3 and 2 for a 30 day exposure period, and 3, 3 and 2 for an exposure period of 3060 days, respectively. 4.9. Initial and control concentrations In most studies (64%), part of the material destined for use in the moss bags is conserved to determine the initial concentrations of each of the contaminants under study. These concentrations are then used to calculate enrichment factors (EF = nal concentration / initial concentration) and the net enrichment (NE = nal concentration minus initial concentration) for each of the transplants and contaminants studied. It is also important to apply certain measures to prevent contamination of the samples outside the exposure period or exposure site. Gailey and Lloyd (1986b) found that the replicability of the results decreased greatly when strict guidelines for sample handling were not followed, and therefore that handling of samples during preparation, collecting, transport to the laboratory and preparation for analysis can cause different degrees of contamination or loss of adhering particles. Some studies included control bags, which were subjected

A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158


200 150 100




0.04 0.03 0.02



0.02 50 0 2.5 0 0.01 0


1.5 0.8 0

Rate of element uptake (ggday-)

2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0 60 40 20 0 -20





50 -0.8 -1.5 -100 5.5 3.5


0.9 0.4 -0.1 -0.6



1.5 -0.5 -2.5


25 19 13

Pb (b)


15 10


0.6 5 0.3 0 -5 0 30 60 90 120 150 0 30 60 90 120 150

7 -5 0






Time (days)
Basile et al. (2008) U; n=3; Scc et al. Galey & Lloyd (1986d) U; n=10; SSp Basile et al. (2009) I; n=3; Scc

Basile et al. (2009) A; n=3; Scc Vasconcelos & Tavares (1998) U; n=11; Sau Ratcliffe (1975) I 1; n=?; Spa y Ss Ratcliffe (1975) I 2; n=?; Spa y Ss

Ratcliffe (1975) I 3; n=?;Spa y Ss Ratcliffe (1975) I 4; n=?; Spa y Ss Tavares & Vasconcelos (1996) A; n=?; Sau Tavares & Vasconcelos (1996) C; n=?; Sau

Fig. 5. Changes in the rate of uptake (g g day ) of different contaminants in different studies with moss bags. The following are indicated beside each study: the area where the study was carried out, the number of replicates used in each study and the species used. As numerous studies determined the concentrations of Pb, the data are included in two graphs (U = urban; I = industrial; A = agricultural; C = control; Sau = Sphagnum auriculatum; Scc = Scorpiurum circinatum; Sg = Sphagnum girgensohnii; Spa = Sphagnum papillosum; Ss = Sphagnum subsecundum; SSp = Sphagnum sp.).

to all handling and transportation steps, but which were not exposed in the study area (Ares et al., 2011; Couto et al., 2004b). In one study, samples of c. 700 mg of different biological materials were collected; 200 mg were used to determine the initial concentration, and the remaining 500 mg were placed in the bag for exposure. For each biomaterial, 12 bags were prepared and analyzed to assess the variability in the initial concentrations, which, for most of the elements, was lowest in water-washed moss and highest in acidwashed moss (Giordano et al., 2009). 5. Post exposure treatments After exposure, the samples were sometimes washed in the labora- tory prior to being prepared for analysis (in 18% of the studies reviewed), with washing times that range from a few seconds (Samecka-Cymerman

and Kempers, 2007) to 10 min (see e.g. Fernndez et al., 2000). The aim of this washing step is to remove weakly bound elements or elements bound on particles deposited on the surface of the moss, and also to evaluate the effect of rainfall events during exposure. Further research is required to optimize the post exposure washing procedure for dead moss, by determining how effective the procedure is and whether it alters the extracellular equilibrium. As regards the use of live moss, some authors (Wells and Brown, 1990) have indicated that washing times of more than 30 s may alter the extracellular equilibrium, thus causing loss of at least part of the contaminants bound to the cell wall and the external face of the membrane. Therefore, long washing times are not recommended. On the other hand, Aboal et al. (2011) have recently demonstrated, by use of scanning electron microscopy, that in samples of native P. purum, washing for 30 s is ineffective at removing the particles.

154 Calculation of the number of replicate moss bags required for sampling errors of 10, 15 and 20% respectively, for different studies considering different contaminants and an exposure period of 30 days. An asterisk indicates n > 50, and indicates that the modal value could not be calculated. (L = live moss; F = at moss bag; Ps = Pleurozium schreberi; Pp = Pseudoscleropodium purum; Ep = Eurhynchium praelongum; Up = Unpolluted; Sg = Sphagnum girgensohnii; U = Urban; D = devitalized moss; Sc = Sphagnum cristatum; I = Industrial; Am = acid washed moss; Sa = Sphagnum angustifolium; S = spherical moss bag; Scc = Scorpiurum circinatum; R = Rural; SSp = Sphagnum sp.; Hs = Hylocomium splendens; T = Trafc; B = moss bag; Bc = Bryum capillare).

A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158

1, 1, 1

Giordano et al. (2009) showed that post exposure washing of moss with water consistently reduced the concentrations of most accumulated elements and induced further leakage of the metabolic elements (K, Mg, Mn, Ni) already reduced during exposure. These authors also showed that the reductions in concentrations were always more consistent in treated materials (acid-washed and ovendried) than in untreated mate- rials. This suggests that in areas affected by low rainfall rates, most ele- ments are accumulated in biomonitors as heterogeneous particulate matter that reects natural and anthropogenic sources. 6. Conclusions and nal remarks The general lack of standardization of the moss bag technique hampers routine use of the technique as a regular tool for environmental monitoring by ofcial institutions. The variables associated with the technique for monitoring air quality are summarised in Table 3. Although these variables are far from being fully investigated, we propose a standardized protocol (Table 3) based on the results of studies carried out to optimize the variables and on the options most commonly applied. Irrigated moss transplants should be used in physiological studies, so that the proposed protocol would not be applicable. As regards the most appropriate species, the information available to date indicates that the most commonly used species are those of the genus Sphagnum (although this genus is absent from several areas). However, isolation and cloning of a particular species of terrestrial moss would provide more homogeneous material. The cloning aspect is perhaps the most crucial as regards the establishment of a standardized methodology. Nonetheless, it is clear that in all cases, the size of green apical portion of the shoots should be established. Pre-exposure treatments will deter- mine the vital state of the moss at the time of exposure; if live moss is used, we recommend that it is washed with water following the meth- od outlined by Tretiach et al. (2007). If dead moss is used, the material should rst be treated with cellular extractants (EDTA and dimercaprol) to free cation exchange sites. It should then be washed with water and nally oven-dried in gradual stages, to devitalize the moss, whilst min- imizing tissue fragmentation. The moss bags should be made from nylon netting of 2 mm mesh size. Nylon is inert, and does not interfere with the uptake process, and this mesh size should ensure minimal loss of the moss during the exposure period. The most common shape of bags used is spherical, and spherical bags have been shown to enable capture of a higher concentration of contaminants than at bags. Moreover, unlike two dimensional (at) bags, spherical bags are not affected by the direction in which they are placed (i.e. the orientation relative to the focal point of contamination). However, we recommend further studies to identify a means of maximising the surface area of moss exposed to the air. For example, a system comprising two concentric spherical bags made from a rigid mesh would enable exposure of a single layer of moss that would not become compacted within the bag. The bags should be located away from any obstacle that may inter- fere in the accumulation of contaminants in the moss, and vegetation should not be used to support the bags. Although the height at which moss bags should be exposed depends on the biomonitoring objec- tives and some practical considerations, a height of 4 m above the ground appears adequate. The exposure period should be between 30 and 45 days. Exposure of 3 replicate bags at each sampling site for this period guarantees a sampling error of less than 10%. We hope that many researchers will test the proposed standardized protocol under different environmental conditions. Different variables could then be optimized on the basis of the results of parallel experiments aimed at assessing the degree to which modications affect the nal results. Some of the variables described may interact with each other, so that an iterative optimization process may be required. Taking into account the proposed objectives (see Introduction), the optimization process should improve the replicability of the results. It is difcult to

*, 26, 15 44, 20, 11 13, 6, 3 20, 9, 5 20, 9, 5 *, 33, 19 26, 11, 6

5, 2, 1 *, *, 31 1, 1, 1

1, 1, 1 5, 2, 1 1, 1, 1 7, 3, 2 *, 35, 20 23, 10, 6 5, 2, 1 28, 12, 7


2, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 10, 5, 3 *, 25, 14 5, 2, 1


*, *, *


2, 1, 1 4, 2, 1 3, 1, 1 22, 10, 5

27, 12, 7 10, 4, 2 29, 13, 7

*, 27, 15

30, 13, 8

28, 12, 7

14, 6, 4 3, 1, 1 7, 3, 2

7, 3, 2

15, 7, 4 9, 4, 2 2, 1, 1

1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1

2, 1, 1

1, 1, 1


39, 17, 10 2, 1, 1 3, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 2, 1, 1 3, 1, 1 16, 7, 4

1, 1, 1 12, 5, 3 12, 5, 3 26, 11, 6 43, 19, 11 4, 2, 1

10, 4, 2 7, 3, 2 4, 2, 1 *, 25, 14 *, *, 28 *, *, *

*, 23, 13


7, 3, 2 5, 2, 1

21, 9, 5


1, 1, 1 16, 7, 4


*, 23, 13

7, 3, 2 9, 4, 2 7, 3, 2

Amblard-Gross et al. (2002) L, F, Ps, Pp, Ep, Up L, F, Sg, U Anii et al. (2009b) Archibold and Crisp (1983) D, F, Sc, I, Am Archibold (1985) D, F, Sa, I, Am Ares et al. (2011) L, F, Pp, U-I, Basile et al. (2008) L, S, Scc, Basile et al. (2009) U L, S, Scc, I L, S, Scc, Fernndez and Carballeira (2000) R L, F, Pp, Fernndez et al. (2000) I L, F, Pp, I Gailey and Lloyd (1986b) L, F-S, SSp, U-I, Am Little and Martin (1974) L, S, SSp, I Santamara and Martn (1997) D, S, SSp, Up, Am Tan et al. (2000) D, S, U, Am Zechmeister et al. (2006b) L, F, Hs, T Zhang et al. (2009) L, B, Bc, Up L, B, Bc, I Modal value

Table 1



*, 24, 13 9, 4, 2 8, 4, 2 2, 1, 2

12, 5, 3 7, 3, 2

2, 1, 1 2, 1, 1 2, 1, 1


7, 3, 2


7, 3, 2

7, 3, 2 6, 3, 2 9, 4, 2


*, 23, 13 *, *, 35 *, 43, 24 4, 2, 1


*, 26, 15 15, 7, 4 4, 2, 1 3, 1, 1

*, *, 32

3, 2, 1


*, 6, 9, 1,

*, *, * 27, 15 *, *, 35 3, 1 4, 2 1, 1

*, *, 33


11, 5, 3 4, 2, 1 3, 1, 1

3, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 2, 1, 1


38, 17, 9 22, 10, 5 13, 6, 3

5, 2, 1 *, *, *


1, 1, 1 23, 10, 6 12, 6, 3 2, 1, 1

1, 1, 1 17, 8, 4 18, 8, 5 2, 1, 1


1, 1, 1

1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1

5, 2, 1

Table 2 Calculation of the number of replicates required for errors of 10, 15 and 20% respectively, for different studies considering various contaminants and an exposure period of 3060 days. An asterisk indicates n > 50, and indicates that thee modal value could not be calculated. (L = live moss; F = at moss bag; Ps = Pleurozium schreberi; Pp = Pseudoscleropodium purum; Ep = Eurhynchium praelongum; Up = Unpolluted; Sg = Sphagnum girgensohnii; U = Urban; I = Industrial; S = spherical moss bag; Scc = Scorpiurum circinatum; R = Rural; D = devitalized moss; Hc = Hypnum cupressiforme; Am = acid washed moss; C = Control; Sp = Sphagnum palustre; SSp = Sphagnum sp.; Hs = Hylocomium splendens; Sca = Sphagnum capillifolium; St = Sphagnum teres; T = Trafc).

A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143 158

References Amblard-Gross et al. (2002) Anii et al. (2009b) Ares et al. (2011) Basile et al. (2008) Basile et al. (2009) Castello (1996)

Details L, F, Ps, Pp, Ep, Up L, F, Sg, U L, F, Pp, U-I L, S, Scc, U L, S, Scc, I L, S, Scc, R L-D, S, Hc, I L-D, S, Hc, I, Am L-D, S, Hc, Up L-D, S, Hc, C, Am L-D, S, Hc, I L-D, S, Pp, I L, F, Pp, I L, F, Pp, I D, S, Sp, U-I, Am D, S, SSp, U-I, Am L, S-F, SSp, U-I L, S, SSp, I D, S, SSp, I, Am L, F, Hs, U L, F, Sca, Up L, F, St, Up L, F, Sca, I L, F, St, I L, F, Hs, T

Al 15, 7, 4 2, 1, 1 8, 3, 2 2, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 12, 5, 3 8, 3, 2 25, 11, 6 *, *, * 23, 10, 6

As *, 27, 15 *, 32, 18 2, 1, 1 6, 3, 2 2, 1, 1

Ba 1, 1, 1 18, 8, 4

Be 15, 7, 4

Cd 1, 1, 1 7, 3, 2 *, 49, 28 1, 1, 1 2, 1, 1 3, 1, 1 26, 11, 6 38, 17, 10 13, 6, 3 *, 46, 26 *, *, * *, *, *

Co 24, 11, 6

Cr 32, 14, 8 3, 1, 1 5, 2, 1 3, 1, 1 30, 13, 7 42, 19, 11 *, *, 30 30, 13, 8 *, *, * *, *, * *, *, 37 *, *, * 1, 1, 1


Fe 21, 10, 5

Hg 7, 3, 2 19, 9, 5

Mn 9, 4, 2


Pb 1,1,1 22, 10, 6 *, *, 30 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 2, 1, 1 23, 10, 6 18, 8, 5 *, 26, 14 *, *, 31 *, *, * *, *, * *, *, * *, *, * 3, 1, 1 1, 1, 1

Se 5, 2, 1

Sr 1,1,1 13, 6, 3

Zn 9, 4, 2 1, 1, 1 3, 1, 1 1, 1, 1

*, *, 32 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 *, *, * 8, 4, 2 14, 6, 4 *, *, 33 *, *, * *, *, *

Castello (2007) Fernndez and Carballeira (2000) Fernndez et al. (2000) Gailey and Lloyd (1986d) Gailey and Lloyd (1986d) Gailey and Lloyd (1986b) Little and Martin (1974) Lodenius (1998) Rivera et al. (2011) Yurukova and Ganeva (1997)

*, 34, 19 *, *, *

*, 34, 19

2, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 2, 1, 1 20, 9, 5 11, 5, 3 31, 14, 8 *, 32, 18 *, *, * *, *, * 29, 13, 7 *, *, * 1, 1, 1

1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 15, 7, 4 12, 5, 3 8, 4, 2 *, *, * *, *, *

15, 7, 4 37, 16, 9 42, 19, 11 *, *, 32

*, *, 43 *, *, 41

*, *, *

*, *, 31 *, *, 36 30, 13, 7 *, *, * 1, 1, 1

*, *, 34 2, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 *, *, *

*, *, * 4, 2, 1

*, *, * 22, 10, 6 41, 18, 10

*, *, * 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1

*, *, * 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 19, 9, 5 26, 12, 7 1, 1, 1

*, 43, 24 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 7, 3, 2 8, 4, 2 1, 1, 1

*, *, 39 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 1 1 1 3, 1, 1

*, 1, 1, 5, 6,

*, * 1, 1 1, 1 2, 1 3, 1

1, 1, 1, 1,

1, 1, 1, 1,

1 1 1 1

1, 1, 1, 2,

1, 1 1, 1 1, 1 1, 1

1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 2, 1, 1 11, 4, 2 1, 1, 1

*, *, * 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 2, 1, 1 2, 1, 1 1, 1, 1

6, 3, 2 8, 3, 2 3, 3, 2

31, 14, 8 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 1 3, 2, 1 3, 1, 1 1, 1, 1

Zechmeister et al. (2006b) Modal value

1, 1, 1

1, 1, 1

1, 1, 1

1, 1, 1



A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158

Table 3 Variables in the methodology of the moss bag technique used to monitor the air quality, and studies carried out with the aim of optimizing these variables, the options most com- monly used, and nally the recommendations for a harmonised protocol. Variable 1. Preparation of the moss 1.1. Selection of species 1.2. Selection of material 1.3. Pre-exposure treatments and vital state 1.3.1. Washing with cellular extractants Number of washes Duration of washing Shaking Weight of moss per volume of extractant 1.3.2. Washing with water Number of washes Duration of washing Shaking Type of water Weight of moss per volume of water 1.3.3. Devitalizing treatment 2. Preparation of transplants 2.1. Mesh material 2.2. Mesh size 2.3. Shape of bag 2.4. Size of bag 3. Exposure 3.1. Shading system 3.2. Cover 3.3. location and type of support used 3.4. 3.5. 3.6. 3.7. Height of exposure Duration of exposure Number of bags for site Initial concentrations and controls Optimization Needs further research Needs further research Devitalized Devitalized Option most commonly used Sphagnum sp. (51%) Apical portion (19%) Live moss (63%) Washed with water (72%) 3 times (47%) Distilled water (80%) 10 L of water per 100 g dw Acid washed (25%) Recommendations Cloned species Green apical portions (5 cm) Devitalized 1 wash with EDTA (10 mM) + 1 with dimercaprol (30 mM) 20 min Wash with shaking 1 L solution per 200 g dw Water washed 3 times 20 min Wash with shaking Distilled water 10 L water per 100 g dw Oven drying, 24 h 120 C

Needs further research

Oven drying, 24 h 120 C


Inert material Large without loss of material c Spherical 2d 30 mg cm

Nylon mesh (71%) 12 mm (35%) Spherical moss bags (35%) 2 b 40 mg cm (32%),

Nylon mesh 2 mm Spherical (ensuring single layer of moss) 2 30 mg cm

General heterogeneity Underestimation of deposition

no no b 4 m (82%) 30b 60 days (41%) 1 (39%) No treatment (72%)

Needs further research Between 30 and 60 days

No conclusion No conclusion Free of obstacles, suspended from inert support by nylon thread 4 m 45 days 3 bags 3 controls and 3 initial times No treatment

4. Post exposure treatment

a b c d

No treatment

Fernndez et al. (2010). Giordano et al. (2009). Gailey and Lloyd (1986d). Temple et al. (1981).

achieve another of the proposed objectives, i.e. a linear relationship between the concentrations of the elements captured by the moss and the concentration in the atmosphere. This is often required of biomonitors so that their use can be considered as a valid alternative to con- ventional monitoring techniques. However, moss bags do not act as integrators of contaminants and often show negative rates of contami- nant uptake. The content of elements in the moss samples is the result of additive uptake and also of loss of accumulated elements by leaching, and therefore the samples cannot exhibit linear relationships with levels of atmospheric deposition. Therefore biomonitoring with moss samples should be used in conjunction with conventional monitoring. Used together, these techniques will provide an inexpensive, exible and dense monitoring design able to indicate spatial and temporal trends and vertical and horizontal gradients for a variety of inorganic and organ- ic contaminants. The application of a standardized protocol for the use of moss bags should not overlook the ways in which the technique works. Stan- dardization should provide more comparable results, but it does not necessarily produce a better understanding of the biological process- es and mechanisms underlying the accumulation of contaminants by moss in bags. In this sense, scientists should continue to investigate the value and limits of biomonitoring.

Aboal JR, Couto JA, Fernndez JA, Carballeira A. Denition and number of subsamples for using mosses as biomonitors of airborne trace elements. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 2006;50:8896. Aboal JR, Couto JA, Fernndez JA, Carballeira A. Physiological responses to atmospheric uorine pollution in transplants of Pseudoscleropodium purum. Environ Pollut 2008;153:6029. Aboal JR, Prez-Llamazares A, Carballeira A, Giordano S, Fernndez JA. Should moss samples used as biomonitors of atmospheric contamination be washed? Atmos Environ 2011;45:683740. Acar O. Biomonitoring and annual variability of heavy metal concentration changes using moss (Hypnum cupressiforme L. ex. Hedw.) in Canakkale province. J Biol Sci 2006;6:3844. Adamo P, Giordano S, Vingiani S, Cobianchi RC, Violante P. Trace element accumulation by moss and lichen exposed in bags in the city of Naples (Italy). Environ Pollut 2003;122:91-103. Adamo P, Crisafulli P, Giordano S, Minganti V, Modenesi P, Monaci F, et al. Lichen and moss bags as monitoring devices in urban areas. Part II: trace element content in living and dead biomonitors and comparison with synthetic materials. Environ Pollut 2007;146:3929. Adamo P, Bargagli R, Giordano S, Modenesi P, Monaci F, Pittao E, et al. Natural and pre-treatments induced variability in the chemical composition and morphology of lichens and mosses selected for active monitoring of airborne elements. Environ Pollut 2008a;152:119. Adamo P, Giordano S, Naimo D, Bargagli R. Geochemical properties of airborne particulate matter (PM10) collected by automatic device and biomonitors in a Mediterranean urban environment. Atmos Environ 2008b;42:34657. Adamo P, Giordano S, Sforza A, Bargagli R. Implementation of airborne trace element monitoring with devitalised transplants of Hypnum cupressiforme Hedw.: assess- ment of temporal trends and element contribution by vehicular trafc in Naples city. Environ Pollut 2011;159:16208. Al-Radady AS, Davies BE, French MJ. A new design of moss bag to monitor metal depo- sition both indoors and outdoors. Sci Total Environ 1993;133:27583. Amblard-Gross G, Ferard JF, Carrot F, Bonnin-Mosbah M, Maul S, Ducruet JM, et al. Biological uxes conversion and SXRF experiment with a new active biomonitoring tool for atmospheric metals and trace element deposition. Environ Pollut 2002;120:47 58.

Acknowledgements The present study was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, project CTM2011-30305 and Programa Nacional FPU.

A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158


Anii M, Tomaevi M, Tasi M, Raji S, Popovi A, Frontasyeva MV, et al. Monitoring of trace element atmospheric deposition using dry and wet moss bags: accumula- tion capacity versus exposure time. J Hazard Mater 2009a;171:1828. Anii M, Tasi M, Frontasyeva MV, Tomaevi M, Raji S, Strelkova LP, et al. Active biomonitoring with wet and dry moss: a case study in an urban area. Environ Chem Lett 2009b;7:5560. Archibold OW, Crisp PT. The distribution of airborne metals in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia. Appl Geogr 1983;3:33144. Archibold OW. The metal content of wind-blown dust from uranium tailings in north- ern Saskatchewan. Water Air Soil Pollut 1985;24:6376. Ares , Fernndez AJ, Aboal JR, Carballeira A. Study of the air quality in industrial areas of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain) by active biomonitoring with Pseudoscleropodium purum. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2011;74:53341. Bargagli R. Trace elements in terrestrial plants. Berlin: Springer; 1998. Bargagli R, Brown DH, Nelli L. Metal biomonitoring with mosses: procedures for correcting for soil contamination. Environ Pollut 1995;89:16975. Basile A, Sorbo S, Aprile G, Conte B, Cobianchi RC. Comparison of the heavy metal bioaccumulation capacity of an epiphytic moss and an epiphytic lichen. Environ Pollut 2008;151:4017. Basile A, Sorbo S, Aprile G, Conte B, Cobianchi RC, Pisani T, et al. Heavy metal deposition in the Italian triangle of death determined with the moss Scorpiurum circinatum. Environ Pollut 2009;157:225560. Berg T, Steinnes E. Recent trends in atmospheric deposition of trace elements in Norway as evident from the 1995 moss survey. Sci Total Environ 1997;208:197206. Boquete MT, Fernndez JA, Aboal JR, Carballeira A. Analysis of temporal variability in the concentrations of some elements in the terrestrial moss Pseudoscleropodium purum. Environ Exp Bot 2011a;72:2106. Boquete MT, Fernndez JA, Aboal JR, Carballeira A. Are terrestrial mosses good bio- monitors of atmospheric deposition of Mn? Atmos Environ 2011b;45:2704 10. Brown DH, Brown RM. Mineral cycling and lichens: the physiological basis. Lichenologist 1991;23:293307. Brown DH, Wells JM. Sequential elution technique for determining the cellular location of cations. In: Glime JM, editor. Methods in BryologyProc. Bryol. Meth.Workshop, Mainz, Hattori Bot. Lab., Nichinan; 1988. p. 22733. Cameron AJ, Nickless G. Use of msses as collectors of airborne heavy metals near a smelting complex. Water Air Soil Pollut 1977;7:11725. Carballeira CB, Aboal JR, Fernndez JA, Carballeira A. Comparison of the accumulation of elements in two terrestrial moss species. Atmos Environ 2008;42:490417. Carpi A, Weinstein LH, Ditz DW. Bioaccumulation of mercury by Sphagnum moss near a municipal solid waste incinerator. J Air Waste Manage Assoc 1994;44:66972. Castello M. Monitoring of airborne metal pollution by moss bags: a methodological study. Stud. Geobotanica 1996;15:91-103. Castello M. A comparison between two moss species used as transplants for airborne trace element biomonitoring in NE Italy. Environ Monit Assess 2007;133:26776. eburnis D, Valiulis D. Investigation of absolute metal uptake efciency from precipitation in moss. Sci Total Environ 1999;226:24753. Clough WS. Deposition of particles on moss and grass surfaces. Atmos Environ 1975;9: 11139. Couto JA, Fernndez JA, Aboal JR, Carballeira A. Active biomonitoring of element uptake with terrestrial mosses: a comparison of bulk and dry deposition. Sci Total Environ 2004a;324:21122. Couto JA, Aboal JR, Fernndez JA, Carballeira A. A new method for testing the sensitivity of active biomonitoring: an example of its application to a terrestrial moss. Chemosphere 2004b;57:3038. Culicov OA, Yurukova L. Comparison of element accumulation of different moss- and lichen-bags, exposed in the city of Soa (Bulgaria). J Atmos Chem 2006;55:1-12. Culicov OA, Mocanu R, Frontasyeva MV, Yurukova L, Steinnes E. Active moss bio- monitoring applied to an industrial site in Romania: relative accumulation of 36 elements in moss-bags. Environ Monit Assess 2005;108:229 40. Decker EL, Reski R. The moss bioreactor. Curr Opin Plant Biol 2004;7:16670. Decker EL, Reski R. Moss bioreactors producing improved biopharmaceuticals. Curr Opin Biotechnol 2007;18:3938. Decker EL, Reski R. Current achievements in the production of complex biopharmaceuticals with moss bioreactor. Bioprocess Biosyst Eng 2008;31:39. Dmuchowski W, Bytnerowicz A. Long-term (19922004) record of lead, cadmium, and zinc air contamination in Warsaw, Poland: determination by chemical analysis of moss bags and leaves of Crimean linden. Environ Pollut 2009:341321. European Parliament Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe. Ofcial Journal,1e44. 11.062008, L152. Evans CA, Hutchinson TC. Mercury accumulation in transplanted moss and lichens at high elevation sites in Quebec. Water Air Soil Pollut 1996;90:47588. Fabure J, Meyer C, Denayer F, Gaudry A, Gilbert D, Bernard N. Accumulation capacities of particulate matter in an acrocarpous and a pleurocarpous moss exposed at three differently polluted sites (industrial, urban and rural). Water Air Soil Pollut 2010;212: 20517. Fernndez JA, Carballeira A. Differences in the responses of native and transplanted mosses to atmospheric pollution: a possible role of selenium. Environ Pollut 2000;110:738.

Fernndez JA, Ares A, Rey-Asensio A, Carballeira A, Aboal JR. Effect of growth on active biomonitoring with terrestrial mosses. J Atmos Chem 2010;63:1-11. Fernndez JA, Aboal JR, Carballeira A. Use of native and transplanted mosses as comple- mentary techniques for biomonitoring mercury around an industrial facility. Sci Total Environ 2000;256:15161. Fernndez JA, Aboal JR, Couto JA, Carballeira A. Sampling optimization at the sampling-site scale for monitoring atmospheric deposition using moss chemistry. Atmos Environ 2002;36:116372.

Gailey FAY, Lloyd OL. Atmospheric metal pollution monitored by spherical moss bags: a case study of Armadale. Environ Health Perspect 1986a;68:18796. Gailey FAY, Lloyd OL. Methodological investigations into low technology monitoring of atmospheric metal pollution: part I. The effects of sampler size on metal concentra- tions. Environ Pollut Ser B Chem Phys 1986b;12:4159. Gailey FAY, Lloyd OL. Methodological investigations into low technology monitoring of atmospheric metal pollution: part II. The effects of length of exposure on metal concentrations. Environ Pollut Ser B Chem Phys 1986c;12:6174. Gailey FAY, Lloyd OL. Methodological investigations into low technology monitoring of atmospheric metal pollution: part III. The degree of replicability of the metal con- centrations. Environ Pollut Ser B Chem Phys 1986d;12:85-109. Gill R, Martin MH, Nickless G, Shaw TL. Regional monitoring of heavy metal pollution. Chemosphere 1975;4:1138. Giordano S, Adamo P, Sorbo S, Vingiani S. Atmospheric trace metal pollution in the Naples urban area based on results from moss and lichen bags. Environ Pollut 2005;136:43142. Giordano S, Adamo P, Monaci F, Pittao E, Tretiach M, Bargagli R. Bags with oven-dried moss for the active monitoring of airborne trace elements in urban areas. Environ Pollut 2009;157:2798805. Giordano S, Adamo P, Spagnuolo V, Vaglieco BM. Instrumental and bio-monitoring of heavy metal and nanoparticle emissions from diesel engine exhaust in controlled environment. J Environ Sci 2010;22:135763. Giordano S, Adamo P, Spagnuolo V, Tretiach M, Bargagli R. Towards a harmonization of the moss-bag monitoring technique: further tests on the accumulation of airborne trace elements in mosses, lichens and synthetic materials. Chemosphere 2012: (submitted for publication). Goodman GT, Roberts TM. Plants and soils as indicators of metals in the air. Nature (Lond.) 1971;231:287. Goodman GI, Smith S, Inskip M, Parcy GDR. Trace metals as pollutants: monitoring aerial burdens. International Conference of Heavy Metal Environments (Symposium Proceeding), 1st 2. 1975. p. 62342. Helsen L. Sampling technologies and air pollution control devices for gaseous and particulate arsenic: a review. Environ Pollut 2005;137:30515. Huttunen S, Karhu M, Kallio S. The effect of air pollution on transplanted mosses. Silva Fenn 1981;15:495504. Hynninen V. Monitoring of airborne metal pollution with moss bags near an industrial source at Harjavalta, southwest Finland. Ann Bot Fenn 1986;23:8390. Kongtip P, Thtongsuk W, Yoosok W, Chantanakul S. Health effects of metropolitan trafc-related air pollutants on street vendors. Atmos Environ 2006;40: 713845. Kosior G, Samecka-Cymerman A, Chmielewski A, Wierzchnicki R, Derda M, Kempers AJ. Native and transplanted Pleurozium schreberi (Brid.)Mitt. as a bioindicator of N de- position in a heavily industrialized area of Upper Silesia (S Poland). Atmos Environ 2008;42:13108. Kosior G, Samecka-Cymerman A, Kolon K, Kempers AJ. Bioindication capacity of metal pollution of native and transplanted Pleurozium schreberi under various levels of pollution. Chemosphere 2010;81:3216. Kupiainen K, Tervahattu H. The effect of traction sanding on urban suspended particles in Finland. Environ Monit Assess 2004;93:287300. Leblond S, Gombert S, Colin JL, Losno R, Traubenberg CR. Biological and temporal variations of trace element concentrations in the moss species Scleropodiumpurum (Hedw.) Limpr. J Atmos Chem 2004;49:95-110. Little P. Deposition of 2.75, 5.0 and 8.5 m particles to plant and soil surfaces. Environ Pollut 1977;12:293305. Little P, Martin MH. Biological monitoring of heavy metal pollution. Environ Pollut 1974;6:1-19. Lodenius M. Dry and wet deposition of mercury near a chlor-alkali plant. Sci Total Environ 1998;213:536. Lodenius M, Tulisalo E. Environmental mercury contamination around a chloralkali plant. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 1984;32:43944. Makholm MM, Mladenoff DJ. Efcacy of a biomonitoring (Moss Bag) technique for determining element deposition trends on a mid-range (375 km) scale. Environ Monit Assess 2005;104:1-18. Mariet C, Gaudry A, Ayrault S, Moskura M, Denayer F, Bernard N. Heavy metal bio- accumulation by the bryophyte Scleropodium purum at three French sites under various inuences: rural conditions, trafc, and industry. Environ Monit Assess 2011;174:10718. Morita M, Yoshinaga J, Mukai H, Ambe Y, Tanaka A, Shibata Y. Specimen banking at National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan. Chemosphere 1997;34:190719. Naszradi T, Badacsonyi A, Nmeth N, Tuba Z, Bati F. Zinc, lead and cadmium content in meadow plants and mosses along the M3 motorway (Hungary). J Atmos Chem 2004;49:593603. Prez-Llamazares A, Galbn-Malagn CJ, Aboal JR, Fernndez AJ, Carballeira A. Evaluation of cations and chelating agents as extracellular extractants for Cu, Pb, V and Zn in the sequential elution technique applied to the terrestrial moss Pseudoscleropodium purum. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2010;73:50714. Ratcliffe JM. An evaluation of the use of biological indicators in an atmospheric lead survey. Atmos Environ 1975;9:6239. Rausch De Traubenberg C, Ah-Peng C. A procedure to purify and culture a clonal strain of the aquatic moss Fontinalis antipyretica for use as a bioindicator of heavy metals. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 2004;46:28995. Richter C, Dainty J. Ion behavior in plant cell wall: I. Characterization of the Sphagnum russowii cell wall ion exchanger. Can J Bot 1989;67:4519. Rivera M, Zechmeister H, Medina-Ramn M, Basagaa X, Foraster M, Bouso L, et al. Monitoring of heavy metal concentrations in home outdoor air using moss bags. Environ Pollut 2011;159:95462.


A. Ares et al. / Science of the Total Environment 432 (2012) 143158 Tretiach M, Adamo P, Bargagli R, Baruffo L, Carletti L, Crisafulli P, et al. Lichen and moss bags as monitoring devices in urban areas. Part I: inuence of exposure on sample vitality. Environ Pollut 2007;146:38091. Tretiach M, Pittao E, Crisafulli P, Adamo P. Inuence of exposure sites on trace element enrichment in moss-bags and characterization of particles deposited on the biomonitor surface. Sci Total Environ 2011;409:82230. Tyler G. Bryophytes and heavy metals: a literature review. Bot J Linn Soc 1990;104: 23153. Varela Z, Fernndez JA, Aboal JR, Real C, Carballeira A. Determination of the optimal size of area to be sampled by use of the moss biomonitoring technique. J Atmos Chem 2010;65:3748. Vasconcelos MTSD, Tavares HMF. Atmospheric metal pollution (Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn) in Oporto city derived from results for low-volume aerosol samplers and for the moss Sphagnum auriculatum bioindicator. Sci Total Environ 1998;212:1120. Vingiani S, Adamo P, Giordano S. Sulphur, nitrogen and carbon content of Sphagnum capillifolium and Pseudevernia furfuracea exposed in bags in the Naples urban area. Environ Pollut 2004;129:14558. Wegener JWM, Van Schaik MJM, Aiking H. Active biomonitoring of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by means of mosses. Environ Pollut 1992;76:158. Wells JM, Brown DH. Ionic control of intracellular and extracellular Cd uptake by the moss Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus (Hedw.) Warnst. New Phytol 1990;116:54153. Xiao Z, Sommar J, Lindqvist O, Tan H, He J. Atmospheric mercury deposition on Fanjing Mountain Nature Reserve, Guizhou, China. Chemosphere 1998;36:2191200. Yang W, Omaye ST. Air pollutants, oxidative stress and human health. Mutat Res 2009;674:4554. Yurukova L, Ganeva A. Active biomonitoring of atmospheric element deposition with Sphagnum species around a copper smelter in Bulgaria. J Appl Bot 1997;71:1420. Zechmeister HG, Dullinger S, Hohenwallner D, Riss A, Hanus-Illnar A, Scharf S. Pilot study on road trafc emissions (PAHs, heavy metals) measured by using mosses in a tunnel experiment in Vienna, Austria. Environ Sci Pollut Res 2006a;13:398405. Zechmeister HG, Hagendorfer H, Hohenwallner D, Hanus-Illnar A, Riss A. Analyses of platinum group elements in mosses as indicators of road trafc emissions in Austria. Atmos Environ 2006b;40:772032. Zhang Y, Cao T, Atsuo I, Cao Q, Lou Y, Zhang G, Li Y. Study of moss as air pollution mon- itor by SRXRF technique. Chin Sci Bull 2009;14.

Samecka-Cymerman A, Kempers AJ. Differences in concentrations of heavy metals between native and transplanted Pohlia nutans (Hedw.)Lindb. a case study from a dump exposed to industrial emissions in Poland. Pol J Environ Stud 2007;16:2518. Santamara JM, Martn A. Moss bags as biomonitors of heavy metal deposition in Navarra, Spain. Toxicol Environ Chem 1997;60:6573. Sstad SM, Bakken S, Pedersen B. Propagation of Sphagnum in axenic culture a method for obtaining large numbers of cloned gametophores. Lindbergia 1998;23:6573. Skert N, Falomo J, Giorgini L, Acquavita A, Capriglia L, Grahonja R, et al. Biological and articial matrixes as PAH accumulators: an experimental comparative study. Water Air Soil Pollut 2009:19. Smith AJE. The Hypnum cupressiforme complex in the British Isles. J Bryol 1997;19: 75174. Solga A, Burkhardt J, Frahm J-. A new approach to assess atmospheric nitrogen deposition by way of standardized exposition of mosses. Environ Monit Assess 2006;116: 399417. Spagnuolo V, Zampella M, Giordano S, Adamo P. Cytological stress and element uptake in moss and lichen exposed in bags in urban area. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2011;74: 143443. Strachan WMJ, Glooschenko WA. Moss bags as monitors of organic contamination in the atmosphere. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 1988;40:44750. Sun S, Wang D, He M, Zhang C. Monitoring of atmospheric heavy metal deposition in Chongqing, Chinabased on moss bag technique. Environ Monit Assess 2009;148: 19. Tabors G, Brumelis G, Lapina L, Pospelova G, Nikodemus O. Changes in element concen- trations in moss segments after cross-transplanting between a polluted and non-polluted site. J Atmos Chem 2004;49:1917. Tan H, He JL, Liang L, Lazoff S, Sommer J, Xiao ZF, et al. Atmospheric mercury deposition in Guizhou, China. Sci Total Environ 2000;259:22330. Tavares HMCF, Vasconcelos MTSD. Comparison of lead levels collected by Sphagnum auriculatum and by a low-volume aerosol sampler in the urban atmosphere of Oporto. Toxicol Environ Chem 1996;54:195209. Temple PJ, McLaughlin DL, Linzon SN, Wills R. Moss bags as monitors of atmospheric deposition. J Air Pollut Control Assoc 1981;31:66870. Tremper AH, Agneta M, Burton S, Higgs DEB. Field and laboratory exposures of two moss species to low level metal pollution. J Atmos Chem 2004;49:11120.