What is meant by phytoremediation? Discuss it’s role in restoration of degraded environment with examples.
Phytoremediation basically refers to the use of plants and associated soil microbes to reduce the concentrations or toxic effects of contaminants in the environment. Phytoremediation is widely accepted as a cost-effective environmental restoration technology. Phytoremediation refers to the usage of “hyperaccumulator” plants to absorb the toxic materials present in the soil and accumulate in their living tissue. Even though most plants do sometimes accumulate toxic substances, hyperaccumulators have the unusual ability to absorb hundreds or thousands of times greater amounts of these substances than is normal for most plants.
How it restores degraded environments
Metals, pesticides, solvents, explosives, crude oil, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and landfill leachates may all be cleaned up by phytoremediation. It may also be used to manage river basins by controlling pollution through hydraulics.
Plants can break down or degrade organic pollutants or contain and stabilise metal contaminants by functioning as filters or traps to remove pollutants from soil, sediment, and/or water.
Researchers have discovered that using trees (rather than smaller plants) to remove deeper pollution is more successful since tree roots penetrate deeper into the earth.
Phytoremediation is a type of in-situ remediation that makes use of the natural powers of live plants. It’s also a solar-powered, environmentally friendly clean-up device that’s founded on the idea of using nature to clean up nature.
- Rhizosphere biodegradation occurs when plants release natural chemicals through their roots, providing nutrients to soil microbes. Biological degradation is aided by the microorganisms.
- Phyto-stabilization: In this process, the plant’s chemical components immobilise pollutants instead of degrading them.
- Phyto-extraction: Plant roots absorb pollutants, as well as other nutrients and water, during this process. The contaminating mass is not eliminated; instead, it accumulates in the plant’s branches and leaves.
- Phyto-degradation: Plants metabolise and eliminate pollutants within plant tissues in this process.
- Hydraulic Influence: Plants control groundwater movement and hence indirectly remediate. They function as natural pumps, with their roots forming a thick root mass that absorbs vast amounts of water.
- Rhizofiltration is similar to phytoaccumulation, except that the plants used for cleaning are grown in greenhouses with their roots submerged in water. Phyto-volatilization: This is a process in which plants absorb organic pollutants from water and release them into the air through their leaves.
- In comparison to other cleanup procedures, it is cost-effective.
- The procedure is straightforward and does not need the use of any new or specialised technologies.
- There is no need for an external energy source.
- It adds organic materials and microbes to the soil.
- Protect the soil from wind and water erosion.
- It’s a lengthy and time-consuming procedure.
- Due of the inability to cultivate crops on the cleanup area, there is a significant financial penalty.
- The hyperaccumulator plants used in the restoration might become invasive, spreading out of control and disrupting the delicate ecological balance.
How to structure
- Give a brief intro about phytoremediation
- Explain in detail
- Discuss how it restores degraded environments
- Mention challenges and write way forward