Comparison of EDTA and EDDS as potential soil amendments for enhanced phytoextraction of heavy metals

E Meers, A Ruttens, M J Hopgood, D Samson, F M G Tack
Chemosphere 2005, 58 (8): 1011-22
Phytoextraction has been proposed as an alternative remediation technology for soils polluted with heavy metals or radionuclides, but is generally conceived as too slow working. Enhancing the accumulation of trace pollutants in harvestable plant tissues is a prerequisite for the technology to be practically applicable. The chelating aminopolycarboxylic acid, ethylene diamine tetraacetate (EDTA), has been found to enhance shoot accumulation of heavy metals. However, the use of EDTA in phytoextraction may not be suitable due to its high environmental persistence, which may lead to groundwater contamination. This paper aims to assess whether ethylene diamine disuccinate (EDDS), a biodegradable chelator, can be used for enhanced phytoextraction purposes. A laboratory experiment was conducted to examine mobilisation of Cd, Cu, Cr, Ni, Pb and Zn into the soil solution upon application of EDTA or EDDS. The longevity of the induced mobilisation was monitored for a period of 40 days after application. Estimated effect half lives ranged between 3.8 and 7.5 days for EDDS, depending on the applied dose. The minimum observed effect half life of EDTA was 36 days, while for the highest applied dose no decrease was observed throughout the 40 day period of the mobilisation experiment. Performance of EDTA and EDDS for phytoextraction was evaluated by application to Helianthus annuus. Two other potential chelators, known for their biodegradability in comparison to EDTA, were tested in the plant experiment: nitrilo acetic acid (NTA) and citric acid. Uptake of heavy metals was higher in EDDS-treated pots than in EDTA-treated pots. The effects were still considered insufficiently high to consider efficient remediation. This may be partly due to the choice of timing for application of the soil amendment. Fixing the time of application at an earlier point before harvest may yield better results. NTA and citric acid induced no significant effects on heavy metal uptake.

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