Yanju Liu 1, Zheng Yang1, Minghao Zhu1, Jianxin Yin2

  • 1 Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center, Beijing 100076, China
  • 2 Division of Environmental Health & Risk Management, School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

Received: November 21, 2016
Revised: February 5, 2017
Accepted: March 5, 2017
Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2016.11.0474  

Cite this article:
Liu, Y., Yang, Z., Zhu, M. and Yin, J. (2017). Role of Plant Leaves in Removing Airborne Dust and Associated Metals on Beijing Roadsides. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 17: 2566-2584. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2016.11.0474


  • Leaf dust and associated metals of 32 plants on Beijing roadside were studied.
  • Dust and metal accumulation by plant leaves were calculated.
  • Metal accumulation Index (MAI) was used to evaluate multimetal pollution reduction.
  • Results show varied ability of plant species leaves in removing dust and metals.
  • Plants with better phytoremediation function in reducing air dust were identified.



As the capital of China, Beijing is continuously exposed to high amount of airborne dust, thus it is necessary to find improvement methods. Taking advantage of phytoremediation, an ecological and friendly way to improve air quality, this study investigates the role of urban plant leaves in removing airborne dust and its associated metals by analyzing leaf samples of 32 plant species in autumn. Results showed that leaves could remove dust from 0.510 to 23.0 g m–2 with an overall mean of 7.50 g m–2 on Beijing roadside sites. Some species removed certain metals more efficiently than others. Leaves of Chaenomeles speciosa accumulated the highest Cd (9.48 µg g–1) and the highest Cr value (19.8 µg g–1) was observed for leaves of Sorbaria kirilowii. Both of the highest concentrations of Cu (34.1 µg g–1) and Fe (868 µg g–1) appeared for leaves of Sophora japonica, whilst the highest values of Mn (169 µg g–1) and Ni (18.7 µg g–1) were found for leaves of Rosa chinensis and Prunus cerasifera f. atropurpurea, respectively. Populus beijingensis accumulated the most Pb (6.57 µg g–1) and Populus tomentosa the most Zn (142 µg g–1). For multi-metal pollution, Metal Accumulation Index (MAI) values were calculated, and the highest values were observed in unwashed leaves of Amygdalus persica (387), washed leaves of Punica granatum (105) and leaf dust of Viburnum sargentii (6.46). Plant species with dust accumulation rate above the mean including Koelreuteria paniculata, Ulmus pumila, Syringa oblata, Malus micromalu, Weigela florida cv. Red Prince, Ailanthus altissima, Salix babylonica, Robinia pseudoacacia, Ligustrum × vicaryi, Euonymus japonicus, Prunus cerasifera f. atropurpurea, Magnolia denudata, and species with higher MAI values including Amygdalus persica, Magnolia denudata, Syringa oblata are suggested to be considered in future green belt planning in Beijing.

Keywords: Heavy metals; Phytoremediation; Urban tree; Metal accumulation index; MAI

Share this article with your colleagues 


Subscribe to our Newsletter 

Aerosol and Air Quality Research has published over 2,000 peer-reviewed articles. Enter your email address to receive latest updates and research articles to your inbox every second week.

79st percentile
Powered by
   SCImago Journal & Country Rank

2023 Impact Factor: 2.5
5-Year Impact Factor: 2.8

Aerosol and Air Quality Research partners with Publons

CLOCKSS system has permission to ingest, preserve, and serve this Archival Unit
CLOCKSS system has permission to ingest, preserve, and serve this Archival Unit

Aerosol and Air Quality Research (AAQR) is an independently-run non-profit journal that promotes submissions of high-quality research and strives to be one of the leading aerosol and air quality open-access journals in the world. We use cookies on this website to personalize content to improve your user experience and analyze our traffic. By using this site you agree to its use of cookies.