A Mechanistic Strategy for Thiol Mediated Phytoremediation of Pb from Contaminated Soils

EPA Grant Number: F5A20126
Title: A Mechanistic Strategy for Thiol Mediated Phytoremediation of Pb from Contaminated Soils
Investigators: Vadas, Timothy M.
Institution: Cornell University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: August 25, 2005 through May 31, 2008
Project Amount: $111,172
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships


Description of Research Project: Low level lead (Pb) contamination is a significant problem potentially inhibiting cognitive ability in our children and preventing land in urban areas from being used in manners such as community gardens. An effective, low-cost solution using phytoextraction and different strategies for making Pb more bioavailable will be examined.

The objective of this study is to identify mechanisms of Pb transport into plant tissues, examine Pb solubility in soil under different conditions and amendments, and test the feasibility of using a combination of strategies for remediating Pb from soil.


Pb transport mechanisms will be examined first in hydroponic solutions with whole plants and subsequently with purified plasma membranes in carefully controlled transport experiments. Soil Pb solubility and bioavailability will be examined in both batch and column studies. Finally, pot experiments with Pb contaminated soils will be used to test various soil amendments and examine uptake under nitrogen and sulfur limited soils as well as test the feasibility of phytoextraction with different Pb solubilization strategies.

Expected Results:

It is expected that plants can take up Pb when chelated to an organic molecule. The mechanism of transport across the plasma membrane will be identified and used as a basis for the soil amendment strategies. Also, under nutrient deficient conditions such as low nitrogen and low sulfur availability, plants will take up more organic material and therefore more Pb.

Supplemental Keywords:

lead, Pb, thiols, remediation, phytoremediation, phytoextraction, bioremediation, soil, extraction, bioavailability, heavy metals,, Scientific Discipline, Waste, Water, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Contaminated Sediments, Environmental Chemistry, Geochemistry, Ecology and Ecosystems, Soil Contaminants, fate, contaminant transport, contaminated sediment, lead, soil extraction, plants, bioremediation of soils, thiol

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2006
  • 2007
  • Final