Ethylenediaminedisuccinic acid (EDDS) enhances phytoextraction of lead by vetiver grass from contaminated residential soils in a panel study in the field

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Department of Biological Sciences


Phytoextraction is a green remediation technology for cleaning contaminated soils. Application of chelating agents increases metal solubility and enhances phytoextraction. Following a successful greenhouse experiment, a panel study under field weather elucidated the efficiency of the chelating agent ethylenediaminedisuccinic acid (EDDS) on phytoextraction of lead (Pb) by vetiver grass, a hyperaccumulator of Pb, and a nonaccumulator fescue grass from residential soils contaminated with Pb-based paint from Baltimore, MD and San Antonio, TX. Three soils from each city with Pb content between 1000 and 2400 mg kg−1 were chosen for the panel study. Sequential extraction revealed that Fe-Mn oxide (60–63%) and carbonate (25–33%) fractions of Pb dominated in Baltimore soils, whereas in San Antonio soils, Pb was primarily bound to the organic fraction (64–70%) because organic content was greater and, secondarily, to the Fe-Mn oxide (15–20%) fraction. Vetiver and fescue grasses were transplanted and grown on wood panels in the field with EDDS applied after 3 months and 13 months. Soil and leachate results indicated that EDDS applications increased Pb solubility in soils. Plant tissues results indicated enhanced the uptake of Pb by vetiver and showed that EDDS application promoted translocation of Pb from root to shoot. Average Pb concentration increased by 53% and 203% in shoots and by 73% and 84% in roots of vetiver after the first and second applications of EDDS, respectively. Concentrations in roots and shoots increased in all tested soils, regardless of soil pH or clay content. After the second application, average Pb concentrations in vetiver were higher than those in fescue by 3.6x in shoots and 8.3x in roots. Visual phytotoxic symptoms from increased bioavailable Pb from EDSS applications were observed in fescue but not in vetiver. This study demonstrated the potential of a chemically-catalyzed phytoremediation system as a cleanup method for lead-contaminated soils.

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Publication Title

Environmental Pollution