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Phytoremediation: applying green technology to toxic waste sites

Technology is creating new risks and opportunities in commercial real estate.   One space where it is adding value is in Phytoremediation. Phytoremediation refers to the natural ability of certain plants called hyperaccumulators to bioaccumulate, degrade or render harmless contaminants in soils, water or air. Contaminants such as metals, pesticides, solvents, explosives, crude oil and its derivatives, have been mitigated in phytoremediation projects worldwide. Many plants such as mustard plants, alpine pennycress and pigweed have proven to be successful at hyperaccumulating contaminants at toxic waste sites.

Phytoremediation is considered a clean, cost-effective and non-environmentally disruptive technology, as opposed to mechanical cleanup methods such as soil excavation or pumping polluted groundwater. Over the past 20 years, this technology has become increasingly popular and has been employed at sites with soils contaminated with lead, uranium, and arsenic. However, one major disadvantage of phytoremediation is that it requires a long-term commitment as the process is dependent on plant growth, tolerance to toxicity and bioaccumulation capacity.

My company, Partner Engineering and Science (Partner), employs various remediation technologies to mitigate contaminated sites. In addition to applying traditional remediation methods, Partner is committed to applying the most efficient and economical methods, including phytoremediation. With the limitations associated with phytoremediation, this technology has not been widely applied. However, the recent introduction of modified transgenic plants may drive phytoremediation to become the preferred technology in the near future.

Posted in Phytoremediation, Soil Remediation.

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