Phytoremediation, or the use of plants and soil microbes to remove toxic contaminants in the environment, may offer Nepal an affordable way to deal with heavy metals like lead, mercury as well as arsenic that are frequently found in the country’s soil and water, researchers say.

In a review, published July in Chemosphere, the researchers note that the global economic impact of heavy metal pollution is estimated at more than US$10 billion per year, with the risks and effects magnified in developing countries because of limited resources and treatment technologies.

“Industrialisation, rapid global population growth, and increase in agriculture have all hastened heavy metal poisoning of soil and water environment in the modern society,” the study says.

According to Shukra Raj Paudel, corresponding author of the study and an associate professor at Nepal’s Tribhuvan University, phytoremediation can be adopted as a successful and eco-friendly remediation measure in today’s dynamic environment wherein heavy metal contamination has become a more significant issue.

“Phytoremediation uses plants for extracting, immobilising, containing, and degrading contaminants in soil, water, and air while preserving their biological and physical state,” Paudel explains. Some of the plants cited in the study include Indian mustard and alfalfa to combat lead, morning glory against copper, ladder brake and needle spikerush for arsenic, and common yarrow for mercury.

Read the full article about how plants in Nepal can help toxic metals at Eco-Business.