Restoration of Environment Through Phytoremediation

Restoration of Environment Through Phytoremediation

Arezoo Dadrasnia (University of Malaya, Malaysia), Chijioke U. Emenike (University of Malaya, Malaysia) and Salmah binti Ismail (University of Malaya, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8682-3.ch008
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Environmental restoration is a phenomenon required to keep the ecosystem intact, or enhance the rejuvenation of impaired environmental media; soil, water and air. Various methods of remediation exist, yet restoring the environment to the proximal or original state appear elusive to most methods. Interestingly, phytoremediation which is a biological process does not only restore environment in a greener way, but also can adopt diverse mechanisms such phytoextraction, phytodegradation, rhizodegrdation, phytostabilization and phytovolatization, to achieve the desired outcome. The chapter also unlined the merits and a few demerits of this principle, while the identification of sustainable plants and the mitigation of time constraints were the future directions mentioned for the projection of phytoremediation as the ideal approach for the restoration of the environment.
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Environment is a confined and discrete space of integrated biotic and abiotic components. Complex interactions that are physically, biologically and chemically oriented keep the environment operational and intact. However, many anthropogenic activities adversely affect the natural state of the environment. Unfortunately, the wants of humans and the associated economic interests remain insatiable to the point that some direct environmental impairment is inevitable, but restoration of the affected/polluted environment is the subject of concern to many scientists. The removal of contaminants from the environment is a crucial approach towards returning any environmental medium to its natural/original state; hence the term “environmental restoration”. While the introduction of contaminants or pollution of air, water and soil can be easy, rapid and persistent, the removal is often a daunting task. Many removal processes that are physically, chemically and biologically oriented exist, and had been discussed in terms of merits and demerits, but phytoremediation is becoming one of the most commonly practiced systems of environmental restoration. Hence, this chapter is designed to elucidate phytoremediation potentials as an option for the restoration of the environment.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Environment: It is the sum total of every living thing and natural forces that make up the surroundings and influences the ability to live on earth.

Heavy Metals: These are metals that are relatively high in density or atomic weight. They are often metalloids of environmental conern, and have properties of metallic substances at room temperature.

Phytoremediation: A treatment process that tackles environmental problems via the use of plants without the need to excavate the contaminant material.

Contaminant/Pollutant: Any substance that is either produced naturally or by humans, which is found in a place where it should not be, or existing at concentration above the allowable limit in a given area; such as in water, air or soil.

Phytotoxicity: It is the degree of the toxic effect of compound/chemical/pollutants/contaminant on plant growth. This implies a condition where a given substance in the environment is harmful or lethal to plants.

Phytotechnology: A protocol, procedure or approach that is based on the use of plants. It can be easily viewed as a branch of biotechnology that significantly utilizes plants in its processes.

Soil Remediation: A process of purifying and revitalizing contaminated or polluted soil. It may imply a complex process with the ultimate goal of bringing soil back to its original state, usable condition, and/or less risk state.

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