Use of phytoremediation to decontaminate soil

Many agricultural and industrial sites have soils that are contaminated with toxic heavy metals, metalloids (e.g., selenium, arsenic), or organic pollutants (e.g., trichloroethylene, perchlorate). These sites may be remediated or restored using different phytoremediation approaches. Phytoextraction utilizes the ability of certain plants to remove contaminants from soil and water and accumulate them in plant tissues that may then be harvested and removed from the site. Phytostabilization on the other hand, uses plants to immobilize contaminants chemically and physically at the site, thereby preventing their movement to ground waters or to the atmosphere (i.e., through soil erosion and wind). Phytovolatilization makes use of plants and their associated microbes to convert contaminants to a volatile form for removal from the local ecosystem. Phytovolatilization has the major advantage in that there is no hazardous waste that needs disposal such as in phytoextraction. Phytodetoxification involves the ability of plants to change the chemical species of the contaminant to a less toxic form, e.g., plants can take up toxic hexavalent chromium and convert it to non-toxic trivalent chromium.

In our research we use all the above approaches to solve real world contamination problems.