Potentials and drawbacks of chelate-enhanced phytoremediation of soils

P.F.A.M. Römkens, L.A. Bouwman, J. Japenga, C. Draaisma

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251 Citations (Scopus)


Chelate-enhanced phytoremediation has been proposed as an effective tool for the extraction of heavy metals from soils by plants. However, side-effects related to the addition of chelates, e.g. metal leaching and effects on soil micro-organisms, were usually neglected. Therefore, greenhouse and lysimeter studies were conducted to study the phytoremedation potential of EDGA and citric acid and to evaluate its effects on microbial activity and leaching of Cd, Zn Cu and Pb. Grass, lupine and yellow mustard were grown on a moderately polluted acid (pH 4.5) sandy soil that contained 2 mg/kg Cd and 200 mg/kg Zn. Citric acid appeared to be degraded microbially within a few days after addition which limited its potential for long-lasting remediation studies. EDGA enhanced metal solubility but plant uptake did not increase accordingly. The metal shoot:root ratio increased upon addition of EDGA but it also reduced the net shoot and root biomass production of both lupine and yellow mustard. Bacterial biomass was higher in both the citric and EDGA treated pots but bacterial activity remained unaffected. The number of microbivorous nematodes was greatly reduced upon addition of EDGA which was most likely related to the reduced biomass production and, to a smaller extent, to the changes in the composition of the available food. Furthermore, EDGA enhanced metal leaching in the lysimeter study which could lead to groundwater pollution. To prevent these unwanted side-effects, careful management of phytoremediation methods, therefore, seems necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-121
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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