Lichens are widely used as bioindicators of air quality because of their ability to absorb chemical pollutants. We used the Lichen Diversity Value (LDV) index to assess the effects of the urban reconstruction activities in the city of L'Aquila ten years after the 2009 earthquake on air quality. Sampling was conducted from the city centre (still mostly under reconstruction and closed to traffic) to suburban areas (where reconstruction is minimal). We tested if the LDV index varied with distance from the city centre because of the presence of air pollutants produced by reconstruction works. We also used Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) to detect the main pollutants accumulated in the sampled lichens. The LDV increased from the city centre towards suburban areas. EDS revealed high concentrations of pollutants related to demolition and reconstruction activities, such as aluminium and silicon (used in the manufacture of concrete), in the more central areas. These results suggest that the LDV index can be a useful tool to monitor air quality, even on a small scale, and in urban environments subject to building demolition and reconstruction. Moreover, EDS could represent a good preliminary analytical technique to identify the air pollutants associated with all of these activities.
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