• Journal Article

Phytoremediation of contaminated soils and groundwater: lessons from the field


Vangronsveld, J., Herzig, R., Weyens, N., Boulet, J., Adriaensen, K., Ruttens, A., ... Mench, M. (2009). Phytoremediation of contaminated soils and groundwater: lessons from the field. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 16(7), 765-794.


The use of plants and associated microorganisms to remove, contain, inactivate, or degrade harmful environmental contaminants (generally termed phytoremediation) and to revitalize contaminated sites is gaining more and more attention. In this review, prerequisites for a successful remediation will be discussed. The performance of phytoremediation as an environmental remediation technology indeed depends on several factors including the extent of soil contamination, the availability and accessibility of contaminants for rhizosphere microorganisms and uptake into roots (bioavailability), and the ability of the plant and its associated microorganisms to intercept, absorb, accumulate, and/or degrade the contaminants. The main aim is to provide an overview of existing field experience in Europe concerning the use of plants and their associated microorganisms whether or not combined with amendments for the revitalization or remediation of contaminated soils and undeep groundwater. Contaminations with trace elements (except radionuclides) and organics will be considered. Because remediation with transgenic organisms is largely untested in the field, this topic is not covered in this review. Brief attention will be paid to the economical aspects, use, and processing of the biomass. It is clear that in spite of a growing public and commercial interest and the success of several pilot studies and field scale applications more fundamental research still is needed to better exploit the metabolic diversity of the plants themselves, but also to better understand the complex interactions between contaminants, soil, plant roots, and microorganisms (bacteria and mycorrhiza) in the rhizosphere. Further, more data are still needed to quantify the underlying economics, as a support for public acceptance and last but not least to convince policy makers and stakeholders (who are not very familiar with such techniques)