ABSTRACT: Phytoremediation is a technology that uses vegetation to remediate contaminants from water, soil, and sediments. Unlike traditional remediation techniques such as soil washing or vitrification, phytoremediation offers a technology that is solar-driven, aesthetically pleasing, and cost effective. Recent studies indicate that winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is a potential accumulator for heavy metals such as lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) in hydroponic systems. Based on these findings, a laboratory study was conducted with the primary objective of determining the phytoaccumulation capability of this plant species for heavy metals from contaminated dredged materials (DMs) originating from two confined disposal facilities (CDF). The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) manages several hundred million cubic meters of DMs each year, and 5 to 10 % of these DMs require special handling because they are contaminated with hazardous substances that can move from the substrates into food webs causing unacceptable risk outside CDFs. Phytoremediation may offer an alternative to decrease this risk. Chemical analyses by USACE personnel identified 17 metals in various DMs, but in this present study, only zinc (Zn) and Cd were investigated. Pre-germinated seeds of the test plants were planted under laboratory conditions in pots containing the various DMs and reference soil. Four weeks after planting, plants were harvested and separated into roots and shoots for biomass production and tissue metal concentrations analyses. Results showed that T. aestivum plants have the capacity to tolerate and grow in multiple-metal contaminated DMs with the potential of accumulating various amounts of Zn and Cd. Root and shoot biomass of T. aestivum were not significantly affected by the DMs on which the plants were grown suggesting that this plant species can grow just as well on DMs contaminated by various metals as in the reference soil. No significant differences in the Zn tissue concentrations were observed, differences in Cd tissue concentrations were noted. A maximum concentration of 26 mg Cd kg(-1) DW was detected in T. aestivum shoots. Although Cd tissue concentrations of T. aestivum plants in this study were below the Cd plant hyperaccumulation criterion of >100 mg kg(-1) Cd found in other studies, this plant species however may still have beneficial uses for phytoremediation studies. T. aestivum plants may serve as an indicator plant for environmental assessment and management, in which the concentration of heavy metals (e.g. Cd) mirrors the concentration in the substrate without dying due to phytotoxicity at low metal concentrations.
International journal of environmental research and public health 09/2005; 2(2):293-8. · 1.61 Impact Factor