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J Health Pollut. 2017 Dec 18;7(16):12-25. doi: 10.5696/2156-9614-7.16.12. eCollection 2017 Dec.

Phytoremediation Using Bamboo to Reduce the Risk of Chromium Exposure from a Contaminated Tannery Site in Kenya.

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Department of Chemistry, College of Biological and Physical Sciences, University of Nairobi, P.O. Box 30197-00100, Nairobi, Kenya.
Kenya Forestry Research Institute P.O. Box 20412-00200 Nairobi, Kenya.



This study examines an intervention strategy to reduce the risk of chromium (Cr) exposure. It follows a previous Cr exposure investigation, which revealed that large volumes of Cr-contaminated waste were burnt on site. The study site had a long history of land-based waste disposal since 1994.


The potential for phytoremediation using bamboo species to restore Cr-contaminated soil was evaluated.


Chromium levels and physico-chemical properties of the tannery and control soils were analyzed before transplanting six different bamboo species. Translocation, bio-concentration and bioaccumulation factors of the species were assessed for phytoremediation capabilities.


Chromium levels in the tannery soils ranged from 1337.0 to 3398.0 mg/kg dw. The chromium levels were significantly higher (P < 0.05) than those of the control soils (0.20 to 2.34 mg/kg dw) and markedly exceeded the recommended limit of 100 mg/kg dw. The physicochemical properties of the tannery soils were also significantly varied (P < 0.05) compared to the control soils. In all cases, the species grown in the tannery soils were tolerant to a wide range of prevailing conditions. All of the bamboo species in the present study had a 100% survival rate in the tannery soils, except for D. birmanicus, which had a survival rate of 83.3%. Moreover, growth performance of the species in the tannery and control soils as evaluated by height and clump diameters did not vary significantly (P > 0.05). However, Cr levels in the tannery differed significantly (P < 0.05) among the species and rhizosphere soils. D. asper, B. vulgaris, D. membranaceus and B. blumeana had a bio-concentration factor (BCF) > 1 and translocation factor (TF) < 1, indicating that they are suitable for phytostablization. On the contrary, B. bambos had a bioaccumulation factor (BAF) < 1 and TF > 1, indicating potential for phytoextraction, while D. birmanicus showed no potential for phytoextraction or phytostabilization.


The present study identified D. asper, B. vulgaris, D. membranaceus and B. blumeana as suitable for restoration of Cr-contaminated tannery sites. Close monitoring of toxic metals is necessary during application of these species. Further studies are also recommended using a wide variety of bamboo species to optimize their application in phytoremediation.


bamboo species; chromium exposure; land-based disposal; phytoremediation; tannery waste

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests. The authors declare no competing financial interests

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