Phytoremediation of heavy metal contaminated sites in cyprus

To examine the ability of specialised plants and mycorrhizae to tolerate soil heavy metals in order to develop specific phytoremediation strategies for the restoration of metal contaminated sites.

In CYPRUS, remediation of heavy metal contaminated areas, typically found in abandoned mines, has remained un-restored due to high costs and limited remediation options. These areas pose a potentially serious threat to human health and the environment. Phytoremediation is a well known remediation alternative that has the capacity to deliver long-term, low-cost risk reduction with minimal environmental impact which can help rehabilitate former mining areas and improve their visual impact in the meantime. This project aims to develop two distinct and novel phytoremediation strategies marketed for the phytoremediation of nickel (Ni) and copper (Cu) contaminated mine sites in CYPRUS. The project will be implemented in several distinct phases consisting of two separate investigations, for Ni and Cu. During the first phase, locations for undertaking further detailed studies of conditions and plants growing in them will be identified from the available data and field work. In the second phase, laboratory and greenhouse testing will be undertaken in order to identify the best possible plants and required growing conditions. In-situ field trials will be conducted in phase 3. An assessment of the potential risk reduction due to site phytoremediation will be conducted together with a feasibility study for future use of phytoremediation in CYPRUS and similar areas. The final phase will consist of an evaluation of overall project results and dissemination of research outcomes. The phytoremediation of Ni contaminated sites will be evaluated with a set of WPs (Work Packages) involving the initial selection of several species of native and endemic Alyssum species and their subsequent testing in the laboratory, greenhouse and two mine field sites. A survey of the published literature indicates that these specific Alyssum species are among the best hyperaccumulators of Ni known worldwide but, as far as we could tell, have not been adequately studied or implemented into any type of full-scale phytoremediation effort. The experiments proposed here should lead to the identification of the most optimal plant lines available, associated growing conditions as well as the agricultural practices required for these to achieve maximum metal uptake and growth. The research entails the survey and selection of wild growing Alyssum species found in CYPRUS with particular emphasis given to several endemic and native species. Once wild plants are identified, their Ni uptake capacity and growth will be evaluated under controlled experiments. This information will be used to precisely define the best possible growing conditions required for an optimal phytoremediation strategy suited to specific sites. It is expected that following successive phytoremediation trials, including several harvests of Alyssum, a significant reduction in residual soil Ni should occur. The phytoremediation of Cu contaminated sites will be attempted with the initial creation and subsequent planting of specific mycorrhizal Pinus brutia trees in selected Cu contaminated sites within a copper mine. Mycorrhizal fungi have been reported to increase the plant host�s tolerance to numerous environmental stresses, including metal toxicity. In this project several mycorrhizae will be used including ones that are considered Cu tolerant. One aim of the work will be to initially identify suitable sites in need of remediation of the type proposed. Potentially Cu contaminated sites will be remediated to beneficial use once mycorrhizal pines have been established and Cu in the soil has been phytostabilised. It is expected that successfully remediated sites will have less runoff and erosion and fewer metals available for pollution. A quantitative risk reduction analysis will also be carried out in order to identify initial risks associated with the presence of metals in sites and whether any change in these risks is attributed to phytoremediation. Finally a detailed feasibility study comparing both phytoremediation approaches to other methods will be conducted in order to provide the economic basis for promoting the technology as a viable alternative. The consortium proposed here includes a multidisciplinary yet complementary group of experts who are ideally qualified to successfully complete the proposed tasks. The technological outcomes of the projects will have significant economic benefit for the Cypriot participants because they are uniquely positioned to market the proposed deliverables into an emerging remediation market. Phytoremediation of the type described here has not been attempted in CYPRUS before, and highlights a novel use of specialised plants in CYPRUS. Several project deliverables will have direct utility to other areas in the greater Mediterranean region that are similarly threatened by the presence of heavy metals in their environment.
Project ID: 
4 012
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
310 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Soil Pollution
Market Area: 
Chemical and solid material recycling

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