Phytovolatilization

Phytovolatilization involves the use of plants to take up contaminants from the soil, transform them into volatile form, and ultimately transpire them into the atmosphere. Phytovolatilization occurs as growing trees and other shrubs and herbs take up water, organic and inorganic contaminants. Some of these contaminants can pass through the plants to the leaves and volatilize into the atmosphere at comparatively low concentrations (Mueller et al. 1999). Phytovolatilization has been used primarily for the removal of mercury; here, the mercuric ion is transformed into less toxic mercury. The disadvantage of this process is that the mercury released into the atmosphere is likely to be recycled by precipitation and then redeposited into the ecosystem (Henry 2000). Phytovolatilization has been successful for tritium (3H: a radioactive isotope of hydrogen), which decays to helium (which is far more stable) with a half-life of about 12 years Dushenkov (2003). Gary Banuelos of the USDS's Agricultural Research Service found that some plants that grow in high-selenium media produce volatile selenium in the form of dimethylselenide and dimethyldis-elenide (Banuelos 2000).

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Organic Gardeners Composting

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