The Atlantic Forest located in the Serra do Mar in Cubatão, São Paulo, is affected by several pollutants such as sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. These pollutants are emitted by various industries, including the Presidente Bernardes Refinery, that gets energy from burning oil. This model is being replaced by a more modern technology, which should result in the production of cleaner energy, based on burning natural gas. Thus, it is expected to reduce the levels of air pollution by SO2, pollutant that currently cause the greatest impact on the surrounding vegetation. The burning of natural gas, on the other hand, may increase the emission of volatile organic compounds, which are precursors of ozone (O3). Today, O3 concentrations in the region are not high; to see if they will not improve phytotoxic levels will be implemented a biomonitoring project during the trading system to generate energy. To do this, plants of Nicotiana tabacum Bel-W3, a species used internationally as a bioindicator sensitive to ozone, will be used. They will be exposed at points distributed around the refinery and the Serra do Mar, and another point in a control region in the valley of Pilões. During the period of one year, before and after changing the mode of obtaining power, lots of 6 plants will be placed in the sampling points, where they remain for 15 days and then exchanged for a new batch. Will be analyzed the incidence of visible leaf injury (necrotic spots), its severity and the leaf area occupied by injuries. Also there will be an experiment in semi-controlled conditions, where the plants will remain in 6 open-top chambers. Three of them will get filtered air and three receive ambient air, therefore, with low concentrations of pollutants. It is expected to verify that if the new mode of energy production is actually more favorable to the surrounding vegetation.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: