Plants Eat Pollution - Bitkiler Kirliliği Yiyor

03/07/2011 08:10:54

For years, researchers thought plants couldn’ttake uppersistentorganic pollutant, or POPs, since the pollutants aren’t watersoluble. But, from her greenhouse in Kingston, Ontario, Barb Zeeb, a professor in the department of chemistry and chemical engineering, hassucceededinremovingthese industrial chemicals and pesticides fromsoilby using avarietyof plants, including pumpkins.

Dr. Zeeb, who is the head of Canada Research Chair in Biotechnologies and the Environment, says that after the POPs aretake up, the plants arecomposted. Called “phytoextraction,” this processpreservesandultimatelyimprovesthe natural quality of the soil.

Traditionally, wedig upthe contamination and take it to ahazardouswastedumpsite orincinerationfacility, but then the soil is lost,” she says. “But, in using phytoextraction ... after we pull all the contaminants out, you’ve still got this naturalresourceof the soil itself.”

The composted material may still need to bedisposed ofas hazardous waste, but thevolumeof contaminatedmatterhas been greatly reduced, says Dr. Zeeb.

“Just about every city in southern Ontario has brown-field sites, meaning they’ve been contaminated with industrialchemicalsorpesticidesover the years,” she says. “Many of them are in the hearts of their cities and they’re beinghinderedfrom development because of thelegacyofcontamination.”

A number offirms have already shown interest in this “green technology,” which Dr. Zeeb and her students are trying tooptimizewith different, bigger plants. “It’s a long-term project,” she says.

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