Remediation of contaminated soils with green plants: An overview

  • Scott D. Cunningham
  • William R. Berti


Billions of dollars each year are spent on the remediation of contaminated soils in the United States alone. Contaminated soils represent an economic liability as well as a technical challenge. New technologies are needed to address numerous contaminants, especially those that are neither volatile nor mobile in soil solutions. One emerging technology, “phytoremediation”, employs green plants in the remediation process. The technique is relatively new, with few field demonstrations; however, it represents an ever-growing area of research built on a sound technical basis. This technology draws heavily from a wide range of agronomic, biological, and engineering disciplines. Exploiting all plant-influenced biological, microbial, chemical, and physical processes to remediate contaminated sites is the goal of much research in this area. In certain situations, sites remediated with a plant- based technology are expected to have significant economic, aesthetic, and technical advantages over traditional engineering solutions. This paper provides an overview of the phytoremediation area with an emphasis on providing background information and research avenues to plant biologists.

Key words

hydrocarbons heavy metals pollution metabolism detoxification 


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Copyright information

© Tissue Culture Association 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott D. Cunningham
    • 1
  • William R. Berti
    • 1
  1. 1.Central Research and DevelopmentNewark

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