UNT alumnus Claire Pitre and a team of interdisciplinary UNT researchers recently published their pilot study investigating the accumulation of black carbon pollution on bird feathers. Black carbon, commonly known as soot, is a component of airborne particulate pollution and has harmful effects on air quality and human health. Under the mentorship of Dr. Alexandra Ponette-González and other professors from the UNT Departments of Geography and the Environment (Matthew Fry), Biological Sciences (Jeff Johnson), and Studio Art (Dornith Doherty), Pitre conducted a study to quantify accumulated black carbon particles on chicken feathers at two different urban sites in Denton, Texas. The researchers found that feathers exposed to ambient air pollution near Highway I-35E accumulated approximately eight times more black carbon than feathers near a bus stop on UNT's main campus. The study's manuscript draws attention to the potential of bird feathers to be used as biomonitors for particulate air pollution, and has just been published by the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment.
Pitre, C., A.G. Ponette-González, J.E. Rindy, *A. Lee, D. Doherty, M. Fry, J.A. Johnson. 2021. Bird feathers are potential biomonitors for airborne elemental carbon. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 193: 35, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-020-08804-2
Free access to the article is available here: https://rdcu.be/cdbsB