3.5 Phytoremediation Buffers

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Phytoremediation is the use of plants to clean up soil and water contaminated with metals, solvents, and other pollutants. Phytoremediation buffers can be used to treat brownfields, landfill leachate, mine waste, and other low to moderately polluted sites.

Limitations in using phytoremediation include the length of time required for remediation, pollutants at a level tolerable for the plants used, bioavailability of pollutants, and the level of cleanup required. Consult with appropriate environmental professionals to design an effective system.

Key Design Considerations

  • Select vegetation that is fast growing, easy to maintain, and capable of transforming the pollutants to a non-toxic form.
  • May need to conduct screening studies and field plot trials to determine suitable plants.
  • Avoid monocultures to reduce risk to disease and pests.
  • Pollutants need to be within the upper rooting zone. Plants with different rooting types and depths may be used together to treat a greater soil depth. A fibrous root system is usually the most efficient.
  • Determine and mitigate potential exposure risks for wildlife.
  • Harvesting vegetation and proper disposal may be necessary.
DOWNLOAD: 3.5 Guidelines and References (PDF)