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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 2 No. 3, p. 371-376
    Received: Sept 15, 1973

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A Cylindrical, Open-Top Chamber for the Exposure of Plants to Air Pollutants in the Field1

  1. R. H. Mandl,
  2. L. H. Weinstein,
  3. D. C. McCune and
  4. Monica Keveny2



Much of the information on the effects of air pollutants on plant life has been derived from studies with controlled-environment, greenhouse, and field fumigation equipment. Each of these is important for the gaining of conditional information on the response of plants to air pollutants, but none of them can simulate ambient environmental conditions. Portable and fixed field fumigation chambers have perhaps come the closest to providing the ambient milieu, but the usual closed design alters normal conditions of light intensity and quality, temperature and humidity fluctuations, precipitation, and free access of insects and plant pathogens.

A simple, relatively inexpensive, and light-weight open-top chamber of modular design has been built and tested. Each module is 1.22 m (4 feet) high and 2.74 m (9 feet) in diameter, and can be stacked vertically in combinations of 1, 2, or 3 modules. The modules are fabricated from corrugated fiberglass panels attached to aluminum hoops and the air-delivery plenum from lay-flat polyethylene tubing. A mobile air filter and blower assembly provides air that has passed through a dust filter and an activated-charcoal filter. An open plastic mesh placed across the top of the chamber reduces the influence of wind on the air distribution system, but it does not impede the entrance of precipitation or of insects.

The chamber was tested in several ways: (i) efficiency of the chamber and filter-blower assembly for exclusion of ambient oxidants was tested by monitoring the atmosphere and by growing susceptible plants in chambers with or without charcoal filters and in outside plots; (ii) distribution and concentration of an introduced pollutant within the chamber were measured by a dynamic air monitoring method; and (iii) accumulation of an introduced pollutant was studied with both plants and a static monitoring method.

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