Phytoremediation, a decontamination method that emerged in the eighties, basically consists of the use of plants, fungi or algae to decontaminate soil, water or air. It is, in fact, a natural method that uses the same action of plants to treat dirty water, for example wastewater, polluted air or soils that also require recovery actions.
The classes of phytoremediation can range from its applications in different environments (soil, air and water) to, for example, the variety of organisms used , be they plant or other. In this regard, it is worth mentioning three large groups that correspond to micoremediation when fungi are used; phytoremediation when they are algae and, thirdly, what is properly known as 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. In this AgroCorrn article we will talk about phytoremediation: plants that clean the soil, water or air .
- How do they work
- Its advantages
- Some limitations
How do they work
Apart from their different convenience when implementing them in deamination projects, this type of organisms can decompose toxic waste from hydrocarbons or garbage of a very varied nature (organic waste, debris, environments where there has been an oil leak, unhealthy waters , etc.), acting as highly effective natural filters against organic and inorganic contamination.
Different needs and ad hoc designs arise in each project , depending on the purpose pursued, depending on its use. Among other possibilities, the purification of an indoor atmosphere, the reintroduction of contaminated water into nature or, as usual, its reuse to water gardens, fields, feed animals or directly for human consumption can be sought.
- Phytoremediation allows to improve the quality of air, soil or water in a natural way, which means avoiding the use of chemical products. However, the choice of plants is key for 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 key benefit . 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, its effectiveness, security, profitability , as well as the possibility of applying it to large surfaces in a very varied and scalable way can be cited .
- Its use is especially advantageous to eliminate the problem of contamination of farmland . 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 can clean the soil of degradation related to hydrocarbons, benzenes, heavy metals, phenols, solvents and other pollutants, and they do it at low cost and in a comprehensive way. Without prejudice to the fact that there are really expensive projects.
- Its benefits when it comes to decontaminating waters also constitutes a solution with great potential in order to do the same with this valuable and scarce resource, whose shortage is also a serious concern at a global level.
First of all, the fact that transgenic is used to improve outcomes cannot be overlooked . 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 undesirable.
While being effective, the effectiveness of phytoremediation is still relative. This means that, in practice, certain conditions must be met in order to be applied successfully. Some of them are drawer, as easy to deduce as is the survival capacity of the plant itself.
The reason is simple: 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. Thus the things, the contaminations that exceed those levels will not be susceptible to treat with this method. Without forgetting that there are plants, fungi or algae with greater or lesser resistance and adaptability.
Because it is a natural method, its rhythm is not instantaneous . On the contrary, phytoremediation is a process that normally requires a long period of time. Only in the long term can most damaged ecosystems be renewed, although the result can sometimes be accelerated by the aforementioned transgenic plants and the complementary use of bacteria.
Finally, soils contaminated to a significant depth, which the roots do not reach, could not be recovered with this system either. And, be that as it may, no matter how much phytoremediation goes to the rescue of the environment , the best solution is always prevention.
Logically, it is not about trusting in the good faith and will of those who pollute (industrial, domestic activities, etc.) but about creating regulations and promoting a model of society that minimizes this disastrous pollution that affects us at all levels.
It is true that conventional methods have been developed that are ineffective, and that, even worse, their application could lead to unknown results, which alter our habitats in an unsuspected way. In this context, despite its limitations, phytoremediation does not stop evolving, constituting a hopeful alternative echo that does not stop giving us good surprises.
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