Moss serves as a cheap pollution monitor:

Moss serves as a cheap pollution monitor:


  • Delicate mosses found on rocks and trees in cities around the world can now be used to measure the impact of atmospheric change and could prove a low-cost way to monitor urban pollution, as per Japanese scientists.


  • The “bio-indicator” retorts to pollution or drought-stress by changing shape, density or disappearing, permitting scientists to calculate atmospheric alterations, said Yoshitaka Oishi, associate professor at Fukui Prefectural University.
  • The used method is very cost effective and vital for getting information about atmospheric conditions.

What are Mosses?

  • Mosses are a common plant in all cities so we can use this method in many countries.
  • They have a big potential to be bio-indicators.
  • Humid cities where moss thrives could benefit most from using bryophytes, a collective term for mosses, hornworts and liverworts – as bio-indicators, adding moss could be monitored in its natural environment or cultivated for analysis.

Effects of nitrogen pollution

  • In a research paper published in the Landscape and Urban Planning journal explained the effect of nitrogen pollution, air quality and drought-stress on moss found over a 3km square (1.9 mile) area in Hachioji City in northwestern Tokyo.
  • The study exhibited severe drought-stress tended to occur in areas with high levels of nitrogen pollution, which it said raised concerns over the impact on health and biodiversity.
  • However, the scientists could not efficiently measure air purity which affects the number of moss types as pollution levels in the sample area were not high enough.
  • If the air pollution is severe, the purity is also evaluated by moss; the change of the moss is very diverse according to the environmental problem.
  • Bio-indicators such as mosses, which generally absorb water and nutrients from their immediate environments were often cheaper to use than other methods of environmental evaluation, and can also reflect changes to ecosystems.
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