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Issue 6, 2000
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Plants as biomarkers for monitoring heavy metalcontaminants on landfill sites using sequential extraction and inductivelycoupled plasma atomic emission spectrophotometry (ICP-AES)

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There have been a number of studies investigating metal uptake in plants on contaminated landfill sites, but little on their role as biomarkers to identify metal mobility for continuous monitoring purposes. Vegetation can be used as a biomonitor of site pollution, by identifying the mobilisation of heavy metals and by providing an understanding of their bioavailability. Plants selected were the common nettle (Uritica Dioica), bramble (Rubus Fruticosa) and sycamore (Acer Pseudoplatanus). A study of the soil fractionation was made to investigate the soil properties that are likely to influence metal mobility and a correlation exercise was undertaken to investigate if variations in concentration of metals in vegetation can reflect variations in concentration of the metals in soil. The soil was digested using aqua regia in a microwave closed vessel. The vegetation was digested using both microwave and a hydrogen peroxide–nitric acid mixture, refluxed on a heating block and a comparison made. The certified reference materials (CRMs) used were Standard Reference Material (SRM) 1547, peach leaves for vegetation (NIST) and for soil CRM 143R, sewage sludge-amended soil (BCR). The relative standard deviations (RSDs) were 2–6% for the analyses. Our findings show evidence of phytoextraction by some plants, (especially bramble and nettle), with certain plants, (sycamore) exhibiting signs of phytostabilisation. The evidence suggests that there is a degree of selectivity in metal uptake and partitioning within the plant compartments. It was also possible to correlate mobility phases of certain metals (Pb, Cu and Zn) using the soil and plant record. Zn and Cu exhibited the greatest potential to migrate from the roots to the leaves, with Pb found principally in the roots of ground vegetation. Our results suggest that analysis of bramble leaves, nettle leaves and roots can be used to monitor the mobility of Pb in the soil with nettle, bramble and sycamore leaves to monitor Cu and Zn.

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Publication details

The article was received on 11 Jul 2000, accepted on 01 Sep 2000 and first published on 26 Sep 2000

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B005594H
Citation: J. Environ. Monit., 2000,2, 621-627
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    Plants as biomarkers for monitoring heavy metal contaminants on landfill sites using sequential extraction and inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrophotometry (ICP-AES)

    A. P. Murphy, M. Coudert and J. Barker, J. Environ. Monit., 2000, 2, 621
    DOI: 10.1039/B005594H

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