Geohealth. 2023 Aug 25;7(8):e2022GH000752. doi: 10.1029/2022GH000752. eCollection 2023 Aug.
Phytoremediation has been explored as a cost-effective method to remediate soil Pb contamination. A greenhouse study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of Vigna unguiculata, Brassica pekinensis, Gomphrena globose, and Helianthus annuus for removing and immobilizing Pb in soil collected from the Westside Lead Superfund site in Atlanta. Plants were cultivated in sampled soil with a Pb concentration of 515 ± 10 mg/kg for 60 days. Soils growing H. annuus were additionally treated with ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) (0.1 g/kg) or compost (20% soil blend) to assess their capabilities for enhancing phytoremediation. Mean post-phytoremediation Pb concentrations in the four plant species were 23.5, 25.7, 50.0, and 58.1 mg/kg dry weight (DW), respectively, and were substantially higher than 1.55 mg/kg DW in respective plant species grown in control soils with no Pb contamination. The highest Pb concentration, translocation factor, and biomass were found in V. unguiculate among four species without soil amendments. H. annuus treated with EDTA and compost resulted in a significant increase in the total Pb uptake and larger biomass compared to non-treated plants, respectively. Although this study found that V. unguiculata was the best candidate for Pb accumulation and immobilization among four species, soil remediation was limited to 54 mg/kg in a growing season. We find that it is critically important to perform phytostabilization in a secure manner, since Pb bioavailability of edible plant parts implies the potential risk associated with their unintentional consumption. Efficiently and effectively remediating Pb-contaminated soils in a low-cost manner needs to be further studied.