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J Environ Qual. 2002 May-Jun;31(3):904-9.

Uptake of cesium-137 and strontium-90 from contaminated soil by three plant species; application to phytoremediation.

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  • 1Environmental and Waste Technology Group, Brookhaven National Lab., Upton, NY 11973-5000, USA. fuhrmann@bnl.gov


A field test was conducted to determine the ability of three plant species to extract 137Cs and 90Sr from contaminated soil. Redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus L.), Indian mustard [Brassica juncea (L.) Czern.], and tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius A. Gray) were planted in a series of spatially randomized cells in soil that was contaminated in the 1950s and 1960s. We examined the potential for phytoextraction of 90Sr and 137Cs by these three species. Concentration ratios (CR) for 137Cs for redroot pigweed, Indian mustard, and tepary bean were 2.58, 0.46, and 0.17, respectively. For 90Sr they were substantially higher: 6.5, 8.2, and 15.2, respectively. The greatest accumulation of both radionuclides was obtained with redroot pigweed, even though its CR for 90Sr was the lowest, because of its relatively large biomass. There was a linear relationship between the 137Cs concentration in plants and its concentration in soil only for redroot pigweed. Uptake of 90Sr exhibits no relationship to 90Sr concentrations in the soil. Estimates of time required for removal of 50% of the two contaminants, assuming two crops of redroot pigweed per year, are 7 yr for 90Sr and 18 yr for 137Cs.

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