Arbor Day Foundation and Intrinsyx Environmental offer natural solution to clean up industrial contamination in cities and towns
The Arbor Day Foundation and Intrinsyx Environmental have announced a partnership to launch a phytoremediation program to use trees and plants to clean up contaminated land in cities and towns.
“We have always seen trees as a solution to the most pressing issues we face, and we’re excited to explore trees as a solution for industrial-scale contamination that can happen in our communities,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “By partnering with Intrinsyx Environmental for this program, we aim to help cities and towns install natural tree-based solutions to their biggest problems.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), industrial contamination affects communities across the United States. The Arbor Day Foundation surveyed 3,600 municipal partners from its Tree City USA program, and it found that cost and budget constraints were among the chief reasons why communities had a hard time cleaning up contaminated lands. To help find a solution, the Arbor Day Foundation began working with regulators, academics, communities and remediation practitioners to examine phytoremediation as a potential solution.
“Plants can take up and degrade many pollutants; however, plants generally degrade them too slowly or the pollutants are too toxic so the plants die before they can complete the job. But harnessing natural plant-microbe partnerships can overcome these challenges,” said Dr. Sharon Doty at University of Washington. “Endophyte-assisted phytoremediation offers an inexpensive, natural, on-site technology for removing harmful pollutants.”
According the Arbor Day Foundation, new research shows an advancement in microbiology that holds favorable results that boost a tree’s resilience to toxic soils and groundwater, further increasing the tree’s ability to grow and degrade contamination safely. More than 30 site locations have benefitted from this new research starting in 2014. According to the same study, public and private property owners can benefit from a cost reduction of 50 percent to 90 percent of the remediation costs they would otherwise pay to extract contaminants from their land and groundwater, including in deep aquifers.
The phytoremediation program will offer free assessments to eligible Tree City USA communities with contaminated areas. If deemed suitable, Arbor Day Foundation will reach out to Intrinsyx Environmental to perform site assessment, design and installation of phytoremediation systems. Polluted areas can be restored on private or public land. To find out more information or apply, visit: arborday.org/phyto.