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"This land, this water, this air, this planet - this is our legacy to our young" Paul Tsongas

About

The by-products of man’s actions have resulted in severe waste burden on Earth. Rapid developments in technology and lifestyle have accelerated the addition of contaminants into air, water and land rendering it unsafe for organisms. Release of pollutants from various sources like domestic, agricultural and industrial sectors has dramatically modified the quality of air water and soil thereby causing harm to ecosystem.

What is Phytoremediation

The term phytoremediation comes from the Ancient Greek word phyto meaning “plant” and the Latin word remedium meaning “restoring balance.” It is a technology that uses plants to treat soils, sludges, sediments and water contaminated with organic and inorganic contaminants. Plants are used either to remove or to stabilize (hold in place) pollution in the soil.

How does it work

An innovative cleaning technology by the use of various plants for treatment of contaminated soil, water and air.

The basic principle is that plant roots take contaminants from the ground into the “body” of the plant they either break the contaminant down in the soil or suck the contaminant up, storing it in the stems and leaves of plants.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Cost effective when compared to conventional methods.
  • Minimal land disturbance.
  • Suited to remediation of large area of soil
  • Easy to implement, maintain and accepted by public
  • Fewer spread of contaminants via air and water
  • Hyperaccumulaters of contaminants mean a much smaller volume of toxic waste.
  • Multiple contaminants can be removed with the same plant.
  • Conserves natural resources

Cons

  • Take several years to remediate the contaminated site.
  • Slower as compared to conventional methods.
  • Possibility of contaminated plants entering the food chain.
  • The survival of the plants is affected by the toxicity of contaminated land and general condition of the soil
  • Disposal of contaminants accumulated in plants after harvesting- Pollution again

Need Statement and Relevance

In India the problem is not only of increase in pollution, but the most critical issue are the scarcity of accurate data on the size and the level of contamination of affected sites.

By finding the right plants for specific pollutants we can clean up the contaminants. Deep roots, luxuriant leaves, special absorptive properties and the associated bacteria in root zones allow plants to absorb, take-up, accumulate, metabolize or degrade the pollutants from water, soil and air.

The necessity of study of phytoremediation is as follows

The presence of contaminants in soils and water bodies involves great risks to the health of plants, animals and humans.

In particular, drinking water containing pollutants encloses a great threat to human health due to the daily intake.

Remediation technologies are needed to avert risk to humans or the environment from metals and organic contaminants in environment.

The relevance of study of phytoremediation is

It does not require any support from external agency or labour. It uses its own natural processes to clean up the site.

Trees and smaller plants used in phytoremediation help control soil erosion, make a site more attractive, reduce noise, and improve surrounding air quality.

It not only decontaminates pollutants but also inhibits spreading of pollutant/s from one site to other. Therefore pollution remains confined to particular area

Processes of Phytoremediation

A range of processes mediated by plants or algae are useful in treating environmental problems depending on the type and amount of pollution, as well as what type of area it is found in.

  • Phytoextraction: Plants take up metal pollutants and are then harvested for disposal (phytoaccumalation).
  • Phytostabilization: Plants stabilize metal or organic (carbon- containing) pollutants in the soil near their roots
  • Phytodegradation: Organic pollutants are changed into something less toxic or non-toxic, either by the plant itself, or by reactions caused by bacteria in the root zone of the plant
  • Phytovolatilization: Plants take up metal or organic pollutants and change them to gas that is released into the air.
  • Rhizofiltration: Filtering water through mass of roots to remove toxic substances or excess nutrients. The pollutants remain absorbed in or absorbed to the roots
  • Phytostimulation: The breakdown of organic contaminants in the soil via enhanced microbial activity in the plant root zone.

Solutions

In certain residential areas the pollution level is critical but through phytoremediation it can be reduced to some extent

  • The green belt development along the streets as well as in the societies may reduce pollution problem around residential areas which have increased due to high traffic movement
  • Certain plants should be grown in houses or offices or workplaces. So, that indoor air could become more cleaner and safer
  • Various societies should adopt phytofiltration method which may result into low demand of fresh water.

Futureplan

  • We are planning to give presentation to various housing societies and local government to make them understand relevance and need of phytoremediation
  • Will suggest them to keep dedicated fund aside for this activity
  • Will engage various professional consultants and government agencies to treat waste water by phytoremediation
  • Will spread awarenss for planting more and more hyperaccumulator plants in residential areas to improve air quality
  • Developing educational progeam in the locality as well as in industries
  • Will suggest government bodies to promote this technique by providing subsidies

Our Team

Prerit Singhvi

Currently, I am living in Navi Mumbai, I am a student of Grade 7 reading in Reliance Foundation School, Koperkhairne, Navi Mumbai I like to visit nearby villages to observe their lifestyle. They live in harmony with their surroundings by utilizing natural resources, without affecting the ecological web. Their lifestyle revolves around agriculture- in cultivating many varieties of crops. This developed an interest in me to focus on Science to develop something new, related to agriculture. Thus I may pursue a career in Agricultural studies and serve for local people.

Laksh Sashis

I am a student of Reliance foundation School, studying in Grade 7. Reading good books and painting are few of my interests. I would love to pursue my career as an entrepreneur

Vyom Vadgama

Rangrajan

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