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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Capture of fire smoke particles by leaves of Cunninghamia lanceolata and Schima superba, and importance of leaf characteristics

Zheng, Wenxia; Ma, Yuanfan; Tigabu, Mulualem; Yi, Zhigang; Guo, Yuxuan; Lin, Haichuan; Huang, Ziyan; Guo, Futao


Emission of particulate matter (PM) during forest fires is a major source of air pollution and hence purification of atmospheric pollution has gained increasing importance. Trees can absorb polluting gases and fine particles by their leaves from the atmosphere and act as a sustainable air purification filter. However, the capture efficiency varies among tree species; thus exploring the ability of forest trees to capture smoke PM released during forest fires provides a basis for assessing net emissions from forest fires and the impact of smoke on forest ecosystems. In this study, the main afforestation tree species, Cunninghamia lanceolata (Lamb.) Hook, and a fire-resistant tree species, Schima superba Champ, in southern China were exposed to different smoke concentrations by simulating forest fire. The amount of PM per unit leaf area, absorption of nutrient element, leaf surface characteristics and antioxidant enzyme activities were determined. The main findings were: (1) The total quantity of PM captured by unit leaf area (mu of C. lanceolata was 28.25 +/- 1.12, 30.52 +/- 3.43 and 33.14 +/- 3.00 in low, intermediate and high smoke concentrations, respectively. The corresponding values for S. superba was 5.96 +/- 0.56, 10.09 +/- 1.13 and 12.27 +/- 0.39, respectively. (2) Both species had weak absorption capacity for inorganic ions in the PM. (3) The purification of smoke PM by leaves was mainly related to leaf surface roughness, where it was higher for C. lanceolata than S. superba leaves. (4) Smoke treatment positively affected the contents of chlorophyll and soluble protein as well as increased antioxidant enzyme activities. In conclusion, the findings highlight the importance of leaf structural characteristics in capturing smoke particles and C. lanceolata is better suited for purification of atmospheric smoke particles following forest fire than S. superba.


Antioxidants; Element content; Forest fire; Leaf surface roughness; Particulate matter

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2022, Volume: 841, article number: 156772
Publisher: ELSEVIER

    SLU Authors

    Associated SLU-program

    SLU Forest Damage Center

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences
    Forest Science

    Publication Identifiers


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