The International Information Center for Geotechnical Engineers

Phytoremediation

Disadvantages

Many government agencies have not fully embraced the benefits of this emerging technology. As a result, it is not considered for many projects listed on the National Priority List or Superfund list (Rock et al, 1998). Phytoremediation cannot treat deep contamination; grasses can cleanse up to three feet, shrubs up to ten feet, and deep-rooting trees up to 20 feet. The process is generally slow and can take three to five years to meet the targeted cleanup goals. A site-specific selection of plants must be chosen to process the mixture of chemicals while preventing death of the vegetation. The selection of plants and their combinations are very much in the experimental stage and in need of additional research. The process is highly dependent on local climatology and must be designed with local considerations. Additionally, large scale operations may require heavy agricultural grade equipment, which are commonly located far from our contaminated urban areas (Mudhoo, 2011). Because wildlife and people may consume the plants, precaution must be taken to prevent introduction of contaminants to the food-chain. If the contaminant is sorbed to the soil, it is generally not mobile enough to allow for phytoremediation. Lastly, the waste biomass must be disposed of properly, sometimes at elevated costs (Sharma and Reddy, 2004).

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