, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 763-771

Performance of Eleocharis macrostachya and its importance for arsenic retention in constructed wetlands

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Abstract

Introduction

Arsenic (As) can be removed from water via rhizofiltration using phytostabilizing plants. The aim of this study was to investigate the performance of Eleocharis macrostachya in constructed wetland prototypes, as well as the plant's arsenic mass retention and the distribution of As along the wetland flow gradient and the soil in the wetland mesocosmos.

Materials and methods

Experiments were carried out in laboratory-scale wetland prototypes, two planted with E. macrostachya and one without plants. Samples of water were taken at the inlet and outlet of the wetlands during the 33-week test period. At the end of the experiment, plants and soil (silty-sand) from each prototype were divided in three equal segments (entrance, middle and exit) and analyzed for their arsenic content. Results revealed that the planted wetlands have a higher As-mass retention capacity (87–90% of the total As inflow) than prototypes without plants (27%).

Results

As mass balance in the planted wetlands revealed that 78% of the total inflowing As was retained in the soil bed. Nearly 2% was absorbed in the plant roots, 11% was flushed as outflow, and the fate of the remaining 9% is unknown. In the prototype without plants, the soil retained 16% of As mass, 72% of the arsenic was accounted for in the outflow, and 12% was considered unknown. Although E. macrostachya retained only 2% of the total arsenic mass in their roots, its presence was a determining factor for arsenic retention in the wetland soil medium.

Conclusion

Hence, planted wetlands might be a suitable option for treating As-contaminated water.

Responsible editor: Elena Maestri