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Remedying Contaminated Soil Using Plants

CHEN Tongbin, director and a research fellow at the Environmental Remediation Center

under Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Geographic Sciences and Resource

Research, told reporters on May 19, 2008 that Chinese scientists have achieved major

progresses in remedying the soil contaminated by heavy metals in a number of areas,

including Huanjiang in Guangxi, Chenzhou in Hunan, Gejiu in Yunnan, Fuyang in Zhejiang,

and Lechang in Guangdong. Scientists have surveyed some 200 mines in more than 20

provinces and municipalities, and discovered an array of plants capable of absorbing 19

heavy metals, including copper, lead, zinc, cadmium, nickel, chromium, and manganese.

They also produced three biological additives from the plants of remediation functions, and

optimized plant based remediation processes.

CHEN said that to perfect remediation processes, the study team has unveiled the

micro-distribution, migration, and transfer of arsenic in the plants, through both indoor and

field modeling, and has created new approaches to position and study the chemicals in the


Started to work on soil remediation in 1997, the Center has been contracted to some ten

remediation projects at the national level. In 1998, the center has found a plant able to

absorb arsenic: Pteris vittata Linn.. Researchers established in 2001 an arsenic

remediation center in Chenzhou, Hunan, the first of its kind in the world. After that, they

established a number of remediation demonstration projects in Guangxi and Yunnan to

remedy the soil contaminated by heavy metals, such as arsenic and lead. They also worked

out a remediation model for inter-cropping of metal absorbing plants and cash crops,

allowing remediation amid farming activities.

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