ARSENIC REMOVAL BY PHYTOFILTRATION AND SILICON TREATMENT : A POTENTIAL SOLUTION FOR LOWERING ARSENIC CONCENTRATIONS IN FOOD CROPS
Abstract: Use of arsenic-rich groundwater for crop irrigation can increase the arsenic (As) content in food crops and act as a carcinogen, compromising human health. Using aquatic plant based phytofiltration is a potential eco-technique for removing arsenic from water. The aquatic moss species Warnstorfia fluitans grows naturally in mining areas in northern Sweden, where high concentrations of arsenic occur in lakes and rivers. This species was selected as a model for field, climate chamber and greenhouse studies on factors governing arsenic removal and arsenic phytofiltration of irrigation water. The arsenic and silicon (Si) concentrations in soil, water and plant samples were measured by AAS (atomic absorption spectrophotometry), while arsenite and arsenate species were determined using AAS combined with high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) with an anion exchange column. The arsenic content in grains of hybrid and local aromatic rice (Oryza sativa) cultivars with differing arsenic accumulation factor (AF) values was investigated in an arsenic hotspot in Bangladesh. The results showed that arsenic AF was important in identifying arsenic-safer rice cultivars for growing in an arsenic hotspot. The study based on silicon effect on arsenic uptake in lettuce showed that arsenic accumulation in lettuce (Lactuca sativa) could be reduced by silicon addition. The aquatic moss had good phytofiltration capacity, with fast arsenic removal of up to 82% from a medium with low arsenic concentration (1 µM). Extraction analysis showed that inorganic arsenic species were firmly bound inside moss tissue. Absorption of arsenic was relatively higher than adsorption in the moss. Regarding effects of different abiotic factors, plants were stressed at low pH (pH 2.5) and arsenic removal rate was lower from the medium, while arsenic efflux occurred in arsenate-treated medium at low (12°C) and high (30°C) temperature regimes. Besides these factors, low oxygenation increased the efficiency of arsenic removal from the medium. Finally, combining W. fluitans as a phytofilter with a lettuce crop on a constructed wetland significantly reduced the arsenic content in edible parts (leaves) of lettuce. Thus W. fluitans has great potential for use as an arsenic phytofilter in temperate regions.
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