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Phytoremediation: plants to purify water, soil or air

Phytoremediation: plants to purify water, soil or air

Phytoremediation is an ecotechnology, based on the ability of some plants in interaction with their associated microorganisms to tolerate, absorb, accumulate, metabolize, volatilize, stabilize or degrade polluting compounds present in the soil, air, water or sediments such as: heavy metals, radioactive metals, organic compounds and compounds derived from petroleum.

Phytoremediation, a natural decontamination method, emerged in the eighties, which uses the same action of plants to treat dirty water, for example wastewater, polluted air or soils with pesticides.

Compared to traditional physical-chemical techniques, phytoremediation has several advantages, among which its low cost and its respect for the ecological processes of the ecosystem to be decontaminated stand out. It is a more socially, aesthetically and environmentally accepted technology.

Types of phytoremediation

Classes of phytoremediation can range from its applications in different environments (soil, air and water) to, for example, the variety oforganisms used, vegetable or other. In this regard, it is worth mentioning three large groups that correspond to micoremediation when fungi are used; the phytoremediation when they are algae and, thirdly, the one known properly with the name of phytoremediation.

In this last group, vascular plants are used, that is, those that have roots, stem and leaves. They are plants that are characterized by having conductive vessels that make up their vascular system, through which water and nutrients circulate inside.

How do they work

Apart from their different convenience when implementing them in deamination projects, these types of organisms canbreak down toxic wastefrom hydrocarbons or garbage of a very varied nature (organic waste, rubble, environments where there has been an oil leak, unhealthy water, etc.), acting as highly effective natural filters against organic and inorganic pollution.

In each project there are different needs and ad hoc designs, depending on the purpose pursued, depending on its use. Among other possibilities, the purification of an interior atmosphere, the reintroduction of contaminated water into nature or, as usual, its reuse to irrigate gardens, fields, feed animals or directly for human consumption can be sought.

The advantages

  • Phytoremediation allowsimprove air, soil or water quality in a natural way, which means avoiding the use of chemicals. However, the choice of plants is key to the preservation or recovery of different ecosystems, so it is important to take care of this aspect.
  • Similarly, debugging the environment in question without moving the problem elsewhere is another.fundamental advantage. Unlike other decontamination systems, which consist of using chemicals or moving it to move the problem to another place, phytoremediation represents a much more ecological solution.
  • As great advantages, itseffectiveness, safety, profitability, as well as the possibility of applying it to large surfaces in a very varied and scalable way.
  • Its use is particularly advantageous to eliminate the problem offarmland contamination. Not only because they often experience this type of degradation, but also to solve the perennial and thorny issue of food security.
  • In particular, plants canclean soil from degradation relative to hydrocarbons, benzenes, heavy metals, phenols, solvents and other pollutants, and they do so at low cost and widely. Notwithstanding the fact that there are really expensive projects.
  • Your benefits when it comes todecontaminate waters It also constitutes a solution with great potential in order to do the same with this precious and scarce resource, the shortage of which is also a serious global concern.

The limitations

In the first place, the fact thatresort to transgenics to improve results. In the event that this genetic manipulation affects the balance of the ecosystem, it would be an inconvenience that could limit its use by making it not recommended.

The effectiveness of phytoremediation is still relative. The plant must be in an environment that can adapt and develop according to its needs and no matter how much the plant can absorb, metabolize, volatilize or stabilize pollutants present in soil, air or water, it will always find a limit: its own.

Because it is a natural method,its rhythm is that of nature, there is no instant effect. In the long term, most of the damaged ecosystems can be renewed, although the result can sometimes be accelerated through the aforementioned transgenic plants and the complementary use of bacteria.

Despite its limitations, phytoremediation continues to evolve, constituting a hopeful alternative eco in the face of growing environmental pollution.

Video: Heavy Metals in Soil. Christine Whitney. Central Texas Gardener (October 2020).