Bioaccumulation of copper, lead, and zinc in six macrophyte species grown in simulated stormwater bioretention systems

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Journal of Environmental Management




Academic Press

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Stormwater bioretention (BR) systems collect runoff containing heavy metals, which can concentrate in soil environments and potentially leach into groundwater. This greenhouse experiment evaluated differences among six plant species undergoing three varying hydraulic and pollutant loads in their bioaccumulation potential when subjected to continual application of low metal concentrations as a means of preventing copper, lead, and zinc accumulation in the BR soil. Results show that >92% of metal mass applied to the treatments via synthetic stormwater was removed from the exfiltrate within 27 cm of soil depth. Compacted soil conditions of unplanted controls retained significantly more Cu, Pb, and Zn than Carex praegracilis, and Carex microptera treatments. Differences in above and below ground plant tissue concentrations differed among species, resulting in significant differences in mass accumulation. In the above ground tissue, from highest to lowest, Phragmites australis accumulated 8 times more Cu than Scirpus acutus, and C. microptera accumulated 18 times more Pb, and 6 times more Zn than Scirpus validus. These results, and differences among species in mass distribution of the metals recovered at the end of the study, reveal various metal accumulation mechanisms.

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