Chronological Studies of Traffic Pollution Using Elemental Analysis of Tree Rings: Case Study of Haatso-atomic Road

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Department Physics, University of Cape Coast, University Post Office, Cape Coast, Ghana

2 Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), P.O. Box LG 80, Legon-Accra, Ghana


Mitigation of atmospheric pollution has been a topic of concern over the past decades. In this study, tree rings have been used to reconstruct past climates as well as to assess the effects of recent climatic and environmental changes on tree growth. Vehicular emission is one of the major sources of pollutants in the atmosphere and this study focused on the Haatso-Atomic road which over the years has been a spot for heavy vehicular traffic. Swietenia mahagoni (Mahogany) tree was logged and the rings counted and age determined to be 61 years spanning from 1957 to 2018. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) was used to investigate the presence of the following heavy metals. Heavy metals (Cu, Mn, Zn, Pb, Cd and Ni) which ranged from (3.15—9.84mg/kg), (2.58 – 5.49 mg/kg), (8.18 – 15.78mg/kg), (0.12—0.60 mg/kg), (0.01—0.09 mg/kg) and (0.10 – 0.99 mg/kg) respectively, from vehicular emissions were determined for annual rings spanning from 1957 to 2018 and surprisingly an increasing trend was observed with some the heavy metals exceeding WHO guidelines. Tree growth rates were calculated through ring width measurements and related to annual precipitation data spanning over the sampling period. It was observed that wet seasons correlate with high growth rates of trees while low precipitations seasons related to low or no growth rate of trees.


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