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Crozet Phytoremediation

A new video showing how ferns can be used to address arsenic contamination is now available on EPA’s CLU-IN publications and studio page. Entitled “Crozet Phytoremediation”, the video visits a small residential property in Crozet, Virginia and shows how specialized ferns are being used to manage arsenic contamination from past pesticide use. The video discusses the financial and ecological advantages that this process has over traditional techniques.

Phytoremediation is the direct use of plants and their associated microorganisms to stabilize or reduce contamination in soils, sludges, sediments, surface water, or ground water. Phytoremediation is becoming increasingly important in heavy metal remediation.  At the Crozet site, a species of fern called Pteris vittata, also known as Edenfern, was used because of its arsenic “hyper-accumulation” capabilities and adaptability to varying climate conditions. This species has the ability to bioaccumulate approximately 200 times more arsenic than other plants.

The Crozet, Virginia site is an ideal site for the application of phytoremediation. EPA identified areas of high arsenic concentrations and created 30 by 30 foot plots that were soil tested, mildly fertilized, and tilled to optimize plant growth, which in turn maximizes arsenic uptake. A landscape fabric was then placed over the area, marked for planting locations in a one foot by one foot grid, and planted with Edenfern. The plants were kept wet until the roots became established, irrigated during dry periods, and allowed to grow for approximately five months. Finally, the plants were harvested and the soil tested for arsenic to determine the effectiveness of the technology. Although some areas may take multiple seasons to be fully remediated, phytoremediation remains a cost-effective, in-situ, remedial technology. 

For more information, please contact Myles Bartos, Region 3 On-Scene Coordinator, at bartos.myles@epa.gov or 215-814-3342.

 

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