Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana

Volumen 72, núm. 1, 2020, p. 1-44



The use and misuse of magnetic methods to monitor environmental pollution in urban areas


Uso y abuso de métodos magnéticos en el monitoreo de contaminación ambiental en áreas urbanas


Kathrin Lisa Kapper1,*, Francisco Bautista2, Avto Gogitchaishvili1, María Felicidad Bógalo3, Rubén Cejudo-Ruíz1, Miguel Cervantes Solano4

1 Laboratorio Universitario de Geofísica Ambiental, Instituto de Geofísica, Unidad Michoacán, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus Morelia, 58190 Morelia, Mexico.

2 Laboratorio Universitario de Geofísica Ambiental, Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía Ambiental, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus Morelia, 58089 Morelia, Mexico.

3 Departamento de Física, Escuela Politécnica Superior, Universidad de Burgos, Avda. Cantabria s/n, 09006, Burgos, Spain.

4 Laboratorio Interinstitucional de Magnétismo Natural, Escuela Nacional de Estudios Superiores Campus Morelia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus Morelia, 58190 Morelia, Mexico.

* Corresponding author: (K. L. Kapper) 

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This review compiles the current understanding of magnetic monitoring of natural and anthropogenic pollutants, with the focus on biological matrices. Magnetic methods are used to identify ferromagnetic (s.l.) minerals, which serve as tracer for anthropogenic pollutants. These methods have become more popular in the last two decades due to their cost-effectiveness and rapid implementation compared to chemical analyses. The growing interest in the study of anthropogenic pollution arose due to advancements in the understanding of the negative effects of pollutants to our health and the ecosystem. The importance of quantifying the amount, type, and pathways of pollutants is obvious in air quality regulation policies and strategies to mitigate pollution in urban areas. In this context, this article reviews the pathways and matrices of pollutants, magnetic mineral proxies, and their measurements and interpretation. Furthermore, the most recent results within the area of magnetic monitoring in urban areas are presented, including their advantages as well as shortcomings. The review concludes with potential future steps of magnetic studies applied to anthropogenic pollution and their conclusions.

Keywords: Biomagnetic monitoring, Environmental pollution, Anthropogenic pollutants, Particulate matter, Heavy metals, Health.