Research gives trees an edge in cleaning up landfills – sciencedaily

A research team from the USDA Forest Service and the University of Missouri has developed a new contaminant prioritization tool that has the potential to increase the effectiveness of environmental landfill clean-up approaches.

Phytoremediation – an environmental approach in which trees and other plants are used to control leachate and treat polluted water and soil – relies on matching the capacity of different tree species to the types of contaminants present. in soil and water. Identifying the worst contaminants under dynamic landfill conditions has been difficult.

“Thousands of contaminants can be present in landfill leachate, and contamination can vary by location and over time, so it can be difficult to determine what needs to be, or even can be targeted with remediation. environment, ”said Elizabeth Rogers, a USDA forester. Service Pathways intern and lead author of the study. “This tool allows site managers to prioritize the most hazardous contaminants or customize the tool to address local concerns.”

Rogers and co-authors Ron Zalesny, Jr., a supervising research plant geneticist at the Northern Research Station, and Chung-Ho Lin, an associate research professor at the University of Missouri Agroforestry Center, combined several data sources to develop a pollutant. prioritization tool that systematically prioritizes contaminants based on declared toxicity values.

Knowing which contaminants are the most dangerous allows scientists like Zalesny to better match trees and tree placement in landfills. “Phytoremediation research has focused on finding which trees work best in particular soils and sites,” Zalesny said. “The ability to focus on specific contaminants will improve the results of phytoremediation.”

The pollutant prioritization tool allows greater transparency on the benefits of phytoremediation. “When you know what you are targeting, you can provide your community with better information on how long the fix lasts and how effective it is,” Lin said.

Source of the story:

Material provided by USDA Forest Service – Northern Research Station. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.

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