ERICo - Communication between nature, society and modern technology

Biomonitoring

In the last century the changes in the environment have appeared, and are connected with the rapid industrial growth or with technologies which can destruct natural environment. Human and other living organisms are threatened by the polluted water, soil, and air; therefore, the effects of this pollution on selected organisms must be studied, while only chemical measurements of pollutants in inorganic media (in air, water, and soil) are insufficient for the assessment of complex influence of pollution on organisms; the basic characteristics of living organisms is, indeed, the sensitivity to stimulus. To measure the degree of pollution only based on chemical measurements is difficult also due to great number of potentially dangerous substances, difficulties in assessment of their synergistic effects, great temporal and spatial differences in pollutant distribution, high cost of measurement instruments, and low density of measurement stations. Therefore, in the world as well as in Slovenia, the organisms or associations which react on load with hazardous substances with the change of their life functions (sensitive bioindicators) or can accumulate those substances (accumulative bioindicators) are used for the assessment of environmental pollution load.

 

At ERICo Velenje researches, which are based on the investigation of the pollutants effects on living organisms, i.e. bioindication or biomonitoring, are performed for over 20 years. With the bioindication and biomonitoring based on the organisms respond, in water as well as in the terrestrial ecosystems, the environmental state and environmental load is being studied, the assessment of human impact on environment and living organisms is done, and the efficiency of different sanation measurements is evaluated. With the inclusion of different plant and animal species the following researches are done: (i) biomonitoring of classical gaseous (such as SO2 and NOx) air pollution (the use of Norway spruce needles, lichens, honey bee products); (ii) biomonitoring of secondary air pollutants (ozone) (the use of tobacco, white clover and some other higher plants); (iii) biomonitoring of fluoride environmental pollution (roe deer mandibles and antlers); (iv) biomonitoring of heavy metal pollution in terrestrial and water ecosystems (lichens, fungi, higher plants, tree rings, roe deer antlers, roe deer tissues, small mammals, birds, fishes, honey bee products); (v) biomonitoring of the pollution load in water ecosystems (invertebrates).