Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 223, Issue 2, pp 559–572 | Cite as

Arsenic and Heavy Metal Uptake and Accumulation in Native Plant Species from Soils Polluted by Mining Activities

  • Sara García-Salgado
  • David García-Casillas
  • Ma. Angeles Quijano-Nieto
  • Ma. Milagros Bonilla-Simón


Arsenic and heavy metal (specifically Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn) uptake, translocation, and accumulation in ten native plant species spontaneously growing in soils polluted by mining activities were studied, with a focus on future phytoremediation work in polluted soils. Plant and soil samples were collected in the vicinity of the Mónica mine (NW Madrid, Spain). Soil analysis showed the ability of native plants for growing in soils with high concentration levels of Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn, and especially As. From these elements, the highest percentage of extractable elements was found for Cd and the lowest for Pb. A highly significant correlation was observed between total and extractable element concentrations in soils, except for Cu, indicating that total concentration is the most relevant factor for element mobility in these soils. Extractable elements in soils were better correlated with concentrations in plants than total elements in soils; thus, extraction methods applied are suitable to estimate the element phytoavailable fraction in soils, which depends on the plant species and not only on the element mobility in soils. High element concentrations were found in the aboveground parts of Corrigiola telephiifolia (As and Pb), Jasione montana (Cd and Zn), and Digitalis thapsi (As, Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn). However, considering the translocation and accumulation factors, together with the concentration levels found in roots and aboveground parts, only C. telephiifolia could be considered a Pb accumulator and an As hyperaccumulator plant, which could be used for future phytoremediation work in soils polluted with As.


Arsenic Heavy metals Mining soils Native plants Accumulator plants Corrigiola telephiifolia 



This work was financially supported by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (project 188/Q065815-146) and Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (project CTM2007-66432). The authors are grateful to Dr. Pastor Piñeiro and Dr. Gonzaga García-Montero, for helping in the collection and identification of plant samples, and to Dr. Luis Jordá Bordehore and Mr. Rafael Jordá Bordehore for information on the mine site, as well as to the Excelentísimo Ayuntamiento de Bustarviejo for admittance to the mine zone and the facilities offered.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara García-Salgado
    • 1
  • David García-Casillas
    • 1
  • Ma. Angeles Quijano-Nieto
    • 1
  • Ma. Milagros Bonilla-Simón
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Ingeniería Civil: Tecnología Hidráulica y Energética, Escuela Universitaria de Ingeniería Técnica de Obras PúblicasUniversidad Politécnica de MadridMadridSpain

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