Environment Phytoremediation from Heavy Metals and Toxins on the Basis of Accumulative Plants
Tech Area / Field
- ENV-RED/Remediation and Decontamination/Environment
3 Approved without Funding
Kyrgyz Research Institute of Livestock, Veterinary and Pastures, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek
- University of Northern British Columbia, Canada, BC, Prince George
The purpose of the project is to identify promising species of plants that are capable of accumulating carcinogens, heavy metals and uranium, and are suitable for phytoredemiation of the environment from technogenic and anthropogenic polluters.
One of the most actual problems of many areas is environmental pollution and provision of environmental safety. The pollution of the environment of humans is greatly intensifying. This problem is not less sharp in the unique nature of our republic (here 4500 species of high plants and 3% of world fauna are presented).
The acuteness of the problem is that during Soviet era, our republic was leader in the mining operations. Up to 100% of mercury and antimony and 15% of lead and tungsten were produced in the republic during the WW II. Subsequently the atomic industry of USSR was founded on the basis of uranium fields of our republic. Today some mining companies continue operating in new conditions among them are gold-mining complexes “Kumtor”, “Makmal”, Haidarkan mercury complex and Kara-Balta mining complex. The development of new fields in Talas and Chui oblasts (regions) is planned in the near future. Also the increase of oil and gas production is planned.
These productions have significant impact on the environment by the way of its pollution by toxic and radwastes of territories, because ecologically dangerous methods of minerals extraction act in technological cycles of mineral processing. For example, ecologically dangerous cyanide method is applied for the gold extraction. Toxic and radioactive substances of ore mining pollute water, soil and flora that have direct impact on locally inhabited animals. As a result, the dinamics population numbers are decreasing and the inheritance is changed. The pollution has greatly negative impact on local population. Having taken into account the formation of Central Asian region water resources on the territory of the Kyrgyz Republic, it unambiguously creates a danger for neighboring countries, and the problem oversteps the country boundaries and expands outside.
Such kind of situation can bring irreversible processes and the extensive agricultural lands can be deactivated because they had been containing decay products (heavy metals) and other toxic admixtures not only close to inhabited localities but beyond bounds of it during several decades.
Other source of pollution of the environment by the heavy metals and hydrocarbons are atmospheric emissions of industrial enterprises, heat-and-power stations and vehicles.
According to our findings, nearby to industrial centers (Bishkek) and oil-producing regions (Uzgen) the higher concentration of polyaromatic hydrocarbons, particularly of benzo(a)pyrene in soil and vegetables (up to 1.383 mgk/kg).
Studies of the atmospheric air showed the presence of 71% of elements from the classes 1 and 2 hazard categories. According to preliminary data the greatest contribution to pollution is made by chromium and lead. The testing of soil samples for benzo(a)pyrene revealed it to be present almost in all places of the city.
In its turn this brings malignant neoplasm, remote consequences reflected in descendants. The possible consequences are cases of physical abnormalities, sensitivity enhancement to carcinogens (allergy) and (chromosomal aberrations) if a person is under the influence of benzo(a)pyrene for a long time, there are some injuries of DNA molecules.
According to our findings one of the signs of increasing danger is the formation of technogenic and geo-chemical anomalies in the densely populated areas.
Environmental pollution is caused not only by atmospheric emissions of enterprises, heat-and-power stations and vehicles but also natural and man-made big and small ecological catastrophes, military actions in neighboring territories, placement of military objects near of inhabited areas, testing of weapons. For example, in recent years because of nuclear tests at the test ground Lob-Nor (Chinese People’s Republic) the population living along the coast of the Issyk-Kul lake has formed an opinion that the Issyk-Kul coast has increased levels of radioactive pollution.
Ecological catastrophe in the area of Barskoon River – one overturned container with cyanides caused damage to the whole district.
Issyk-Kul Lake is considered as reserve area having international importance, that’s why the special attention in preservation of the environment is paid to the areas adjacent to Issyk-Kul Lake.
The tasks of scientists are the recycling of wastes, rehabilitation of polluted territories, and development of active methods of pollution control which allow developing of production with less risk to the environment.
One of the most important present-day issues and decision of this task is an adequate ecological-and-biological assessment of natural and technogenic territories, identification of natural indicators (biomonitors) of environmental pollution with heavy metals, carcinogens, etc. and their use for phytoredemiation of densely populated areas.
The growth is the object of intensive technogenic impact and at the same time it plays the role of sensitive natural indicator, thus, the most effective and environmentally advantageous method for purification of the environment from noxious substances is phytoremediation. Plants act as a filter to prevent metals and other carcinogens from passing into the environment. The importance of plants increases with the increasing pollution of the environment.
All over the world the phytoredemiation technology that uses the ability of plants to accumulate heavy metals is considered to be highly promising. Such kind of researches have been performing in our republic since 60ies. The participants of this project took part in them. The scientists researched the presence of some metals (Cu, Co) in certain plant families (compositae and legumes). The results have showed that there is a connection between positions of separate kinds and species and character of chemical elements distribution.
A certain regularity of heavy metals systematic groups distribution has been identified, for example, high concentration of Mo in legumes and fowl-grass families. We have researched hemo and radiosensitivity of certain plants depending on their geographical origins.
It has been noted that some plants are able to accumulate metals in most of the regions independently of natural latitudinal zones. For example, the bur (Cu), narrow-leaved willow (Zn), grey teresken (Sr), bare licorice (Ca), mare's-tail efedra (Ca), etc. Some plants “like” heavy metals and are not oppressed, these are representatives of labiates and some kinds of amaranth.
There are such evidences in the literature that some plants are able not only accumulate various polluters but also detoxify them. Like this, tobacco plant is able to separate the trinitrotoluene into harmless components, ash-tree can detoxify a soil polluted by Cd.
Analysis of data suggests that the area of research chosen by us presents one of highly promising approaches to the improvement of the health of territories containing increased levels of different technogenic polluters.
To realize the aim of the project the following tasks should be carried out:
1. Screening of species of wild and cultivated plants of Kyrgyzstan for their capacity to accumulate heavy metals, carcinogens, uranium with special attention to densely populated areas.
2. To carry out a comparative study of contents of heavy metals, uranium, carcinogens in environmental objects (soil, water)
3. To establish relationship between the accumulating capacity of plants and their taxonomic place; to gather and develop a collection of accumulator-plants from the wild and cultivated flora.
4. Mapping of ecological zones of contents of hazardous substances.
5. To develop recommendations on phytoremediation of different technogenic and anthropogenic pollution areas.
Meeting ISTC Goals and Objectives
The proposed project meets ISTC goals and objectives: “To support fundamental and applied research and technological development for peaceful purposes especially in the area of environmental protection…” The project provides to scientists and specialists in Kyrgyzstan who were previously involved in weaponry production opportunities to reorient their activities and skills for creation new technologies to rehabilitee polluted territories and transfer them into healthy zones. The project realization will further a creation of new work places for weapons scientists and integration of scientists from Kyrgyzstan into the international community. This, in its turn, will impact positively on further scientific researches in the areas of ecological independence and food safety.
The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.
ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.