Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 91–111

The exchangeability and leachability of metals from select green roof growth substrates


DOI: 10.1007/s11252-009-0106-y

Cite this article as:
Alsup, S., Ebbs, S. & Retzlaff, W. Urban Ecosyst (2010) 13: 91. doi:10.1007/s11252-009-0106-y


Batch extraction and leaching studies were conducted with potential green roof substrates (e.g., Axis, Arklayte, coal bottom ash, Haydite, Lassenite, lava rock, and composted pine bark). The results indicated that these materials would not likely be sources of Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni, or Zn and that Lassenite would be considered a source of Mn if the leachate concentrations were compared to USEPA drinking water standards for these elements. Lassenite would not be a source of Mn if the data was compared to a USEPA standard for Mn toxicity to aquatic life. All of the substrates tested leached Cd and/or Pb concentrations that exceeded the USEPA water quality standards at least once during the 6-month leaching study, so these materials may be potential sources of Cd and Pb in green roof storm water runoff. The leaching of Cu, Cd, Fe, Mn, Pb, and Zn was differentially influenced by time and/or the presence of a single Sedum hybridum ‘immergrauch’ plant. The leaching of Cd, Cu, and Pb displayed complex, three-way interactions between main effects (substrate type and the presence or absence of a plant) and between leaching events. For all substrates except Lassenite, the presence of a S. hybridum plant decreased the leaching of Pb over time. The leaching of Cd was generally enhanced by plants for most substrates with time. Collectively the results suggest that changes in the biogeochemical conditions within green roof systems may alter metal solubility, decreasing the leaching of some elements and increasing the leaching of others.


Green roofs Heavy metals Sedum hybridum Vegetated roofs Water quality 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologySouthern Illinois University CarbondaleCarbondaleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesSouthern Illinois University EdwardsvilleEdwardsvilleUSA

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