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  Phytoremediation: State of the Science Conference, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (498 pp, 14 MB) (EPA/625/R-01/011) March 2002
Summary (73 pp, 4.13 MB)

Five years ago, many people were unfamiliar with the concepts that underlie phytoremediation. Today, the field is burgeoning with interest and many owners of contaminated sites are asking for permission to implement phytoremediation. Regulators are eager to obtain a better understanding of phytoremediation so that they will know where it is likely to be successful, when to dismiss it, and when to perform preliminary tests to determine whether it is appropriate for a particular site.

Of the proposals that have been submitted, most have focused on using phytoremediation as a containment technology. This does not mean that enough data have been collected to prove conclusively that phytoremediation is successful when applied this way; nor does it mean that phytoremediation has no potential to reduce contaminant concentrations. Phytoremediation's optimal application will differ across sites and will be determined by the contaminants, climatological conditions, and geological conditions that are present. Thus, phytoremediation will be useful as a containment technology at some sites and as a destruction approach at others. At some sites, it will probably serve as part of a treatment train.

Sites in arid or semi-arid climates might be excellent candidates for phytoremediation; plants might be able to extract enough moisture to prevent leachate from forming at these sites. In addition, phytoremediation might be beneficial for use at sites that have widespread contamination and concentrations close to cleanup levels. Also, sites that require ecosystem restoration might obtain significant benefits by applying phytoremediation.


Joan Colson

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