Plant that suck up pollutants from soil

Chinese experts have successfully used a plant to clean arsenic pollution from the soil.

The Chinese fern, whose scientific name is Pteris vittata L, has a “strong capacity” to extract arsenic from the soil, a researcher said.

A team led by Chen Tongbin of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources is currently running a similar project in Guangxi Zhuang region.

Chen said they cultivated the plant, also called “hyper-accumulators”, to extract arsenic from the soil. He said the method is cost effective, the Global Times reported Thursday.

He, however, added that “heavy metals, different from organic pollutants, are non-biodegradable and can’t be separated from the polluted soil”.

“They can cause serious pollution to farmland and drinking water.”

“Agricultural castoff, like stalks, have many pores. It can be used to absorb soil cadmium after modification,” professor Yang Chen added.

But, Wang Qi, a solid waste specialist, said heavy metal cleansing requires a combination of technologies covering all industry process.

Experts deliberated on the subject during a two-day forum here that ended Thursday. Some 300 soil scientists and ecology experts attended.

Arsenic occurs in many minerals, usually in conjunction with sulfur and metals. Arsenic pollution of the groundwater can cause serious health problems.