Oil seed rape grown for biofuel in Ireland could help clean up contaminated soils, scientists heard at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn meeting being held this week at Trinity College, Dublin.This is a great innovation, considering the prevalence of heavy metals and toxins on some land in Virginia. For example, many of the former and current military facilities in the commonwealth are sources of heavy metals contamination. But the fastest growing source of heavy metal contamination is actually our cars and their infrastructure.
Using plants to help clean up heavily polluted soils has been successfully tested for many years and shown to be a cheap and environmentally friendly way to clear heavy metals such as arsenic, copper, zinc and chromium from contaminated land. The main problem with the method has been the amount of time it takes to grow successive crops of plants to clean up an area. Now scientists may have come up with a solution by combining heavy metal tolerant bacteria with plants used to make biofuels such as oil seed rape. - ScienceDaily
About half of the zinc and copper contribution to the environment from urbanization is from automobiles. Brakes release copper, while tire wear releases zinc. Motor oil also tends to accumulate metals as it comes into contact with surrounding parts as the engine runs, so oil leaks become another pathway by which metals enter the environment.Given the need for alternative fuels, and the acres of grassy berms, medians and rights of way on our roadways, it may make sense, in the future, to plant rapeseed on our roadsides, to clean the results of our driving, and grow some fuel for the future in the process.
On the road surface, most heavy metals become bound to the surfaces of road dust or other particulates. During precipitation, the bound metals will either become soluble (dissolved) or be swept off the roadway with the dust. In either case, the metals enter the soil or are channeled into a storm drain. - Conservation Currents, courtesy of Fairfaxcounty.gov