Testing the Abilities of Native Illinois Plants to Effectively Remove Lead from Water
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In today’s world, there is an increasing number of contaminated environments that are in need of remediation efforts. While traditional remediation methods have been proven to be effective, they are not always the best option in terms of cost, appeal, and additional side effects that can occur. While more natural methods of remediation exist, little research has been conducted on them, causing them to not be readily known as possible options to undertake for remediation of a contaminated site. One such method is phytoremediation. This method involves using live plants to successfully remove heavy metals and other organic and non-organic pollutants from contaminated soils and waters. This experiment tested the ability of native plants in Illinois to remove lead from polluted waters. Five species of plants were tested and are as follows: The Water Hyacinth, Sawtooth Sunflower, Nodding-Bur Marigold, Common Buttonbush and Lizards Tail. The Water Hyacinths, Sawtooth Sunflowers, Common Buttonbush and Nodding-Bur Marigolds successfully grew in a hydroponic system. The first three were able to uptake an average of 24.59 ppm (0.02459 g/kg), 0.865 ppm (0.000865 g/kg), and 0.555 ppm (0.000555 g/kg) of lead respectively. Through the use of a T-Test, these plants statistically demonstrated the ability to be used as potential remediators for sites contaminated with lead. With this study and additional extensive research on these plants and the remediation technique, phytoremediation has the potential to grow into a more widely used and accepted method of remediation for contaminated areas.