Industries that release airborne particulates must meet strict emission standards set by the Dutch government. Even so, farmers and local residents still routinely question whether these emissions are ending up in their immediate surroundings. Biomonitoring - using plants to measure air quality - addresses the concerns of area farmers and residents.
Some plants, being highly sensitive to air quality, develop visible and specifically attributable symptoms. Cultivating these so-called 'indicator plants' in at-risk areas facilitates local air-quality monitoring. Plants that absorb and store airborne particulates without developing visible symptoms are known as 'accumulators'. Samples collected from these plants can be analysed for substances such as heavy metals, PAHs, dioxins and PCBs.Biomonitoring has been shown to be a powerful tool for monitoring air quality near waste incinerators, ore processing plants and airports.
Biomonitoring as a prevention measure
In 2014, biomonitoring measurement points were set up around Lelystad Airport to determine the local air quality. At the same time, the future consequences of Lelystad Airport's planned expansion on crops in the immediate surroundings were determined by taking biomonitoring measurements near Bremen Airport, which, in terms of its activity levels, is comparable with the future Lelystad Airport. Based on these measurements, the aeroplanes' exhaust gas emissions did not appear to have an adverse impact on the health of the crops in the immediate surroundings of Bremen Airport.
Reliable, scientific air-quality measurements
The biomonitoring measurements performed by Wageningen UR are reliable and scientifically sound. Agricultural interest groups such as LTO Nederland and various provinces and industries have asked Wageningen UR to perform these measurements. The significant advantage of biomonitoring for air quality measurements is that it offers a simple, insightful way to demonstrate that an industry's air emissions are not affecting the crop quality in the immediate surroundings. Biomonitoring measurements offer farmers reassurance about the continuing high quality of their crops. For local residents, these measurements offer a sense of security about the environment in which they live.
Would you like to know more about what biomonitoring could mean for your organisation? We are happy to provider further information about the possibilities for your specific situation!