Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Earth and Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Alice Grgicak-Mannion

Second Advisor

Joel Gagnon


Biomonitoring, Geographic Information Systems, Land Use Regression, Metal Pollution, Pollution Modelling, Windsor




Heavily industrialized and widely trafficked urban environments, such as Windsor, ON, have historically elevated levels of particulate and air borne metals, which can lead to a variety of detrimental health effects including respiratory and cardiovascular disease and cancers in humans when exposed. Quantification of airborne metals provides the opportunity to identify areas with elevated concentrations that pose health risks and to determine the potential sources of these pollutants. Concentrations of Al, As, Ba, Cd, Cu, Cr, Ni, Pb, Sr, V and Zn were quantified from 50 samples across Windsor via Littleleaf Linden (Tilia Cordata) leaf biomonitors using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy and mass spectrometry analyses. Metal concentrations in leaves were compared to those found in buds from the same tree, a sample taken ~20km from the city, and a global plant standard to assess the level of enrichment. Areas in west Windsor, east Windsor and Walkerville were found to have the greatest enrichment of As, Cd, Cu, Cr, Ni, Pb, V and Zn, which were all within close proximity to various industrial facilities. Principal component analysis demonstrated that As, Cr, Ni, Pb, and V likely originate from shared sources, as do Zn, Cd and Cu. Significant land use regression (LUR) models were developed for Al, As, Cd, Cr, Pb, Sr, V, Zn with R2 ranging from 0.21-0.76, which identified industrial land use, proximity to traffic counts and roads, distilleries, auto part production and auto assembly plants as possible sources for these airborne metal contaminants. LUR model R2 and traffic-based and industrial predictors were consistent with metal LUR models developed elsewhere using more expensive monitoring methods. Use of Littleleaf Linden biomonitors offers a monitoring medium that is less cost-prohibitive than current technologies. This study demonstrated the efficacy of Littleleaf Linden leaves as biomonitors of metal contaminants, the existence of localized areas with elevated concentrations of multiple metals, and identified distilleries, automotive facilities, traffic and population density as possible sources of airborne metal contaminants in Windsor.