Sources, bioaccumulation, health risks and remediation of potentially toxic metal(loid)s (As, Cd, Cr, Pb and Hg): an epitomised review

  • Deep Raj
  • Subodh Kumar MaitiEmail author


The release of potentially toxic metal(loid)s (PTMs) such as As, Cd, Cr, Pb and Hg has become a serious threat to the environment. The anthropogenic contribution of these PTMs, especially Hg, is increasing continuously, and coal combustion in thermal power plants (TPPs) is considered to be the highest contributor of PTMs. Once entered into the environment, PTMs get deposited on the soil, which is the most important sink of these PTMs. This review centred on the sources of PTMs from coal and flyash and their enrichment in soil, chemical behaviour in soil and plant, bioaccumulation in trees and vegetables, health risk and remediation. Several remediation techniques (physical and chemical) have been used to minimise the PTMs level in soil and water, but the phytoremediation technique is the most commonly used technique for the effective removal of PTMs from contaminated soil and water. Several plant species like Brassica juncea, Pteris vittata and Helianthus annuus are proved to be the most potential candidate for the PTMs removal. Among all the PTMs, the occurrence of Hg in coal is a global concern due to the significant release of Hg into the atmosphere from coal-fired thermal power plants. Therefore, the Hg removal from pre-combustion (coal washing and demercuration techniques) coal is very essential to reduce the possibility of Hg release to the atmosphere.


Potentially toxic metal(loid)s Mercury Coal and flyash Plants and vegetables Phytoremediation 



The authors are grateful to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD, Government of India) for providing research fellowship to the first author (D.R.). The authors also acknowledge Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), Dhanbad (India) for providing basic research facilities.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science and EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines)DhanbadIndia

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