chapter  7
36 Pages

Transgenic Phytoremediation of Herbicides and Explosives in Soil and Environment

Phytoremediation is not just a growing science but a fast-expanding industry. It is the process by which green plants detoxify soils, sediments, and aquatic sites contaminated with organic and inorganic pollutants. Most of the organic pollutants are xenobiotic and manmade. These include pesticides such as herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, oil spills, explosives and military weapons, industrial chemicals, etc. Inorganic pollutants include natural elements (cadmium, cobalt, iron, lead, mercury, selenium, tungsten, etc.) released into the environment by human activities in such areas as mining, industry, traffi c, agriculture (plant nutrients by way of fertilizers), military, etc. [Pilon-Smits 2005]. The contaminants vary in toxicity, but after long-term exposure they can be detrimental to human and animal health. Some of them cause damage to DNA and their carcinogenic effects in humans and animals are probably caused by mutagenic ability [Knasmuller et al. 1998; Baudouin et al. 2002; Hooda 2007]. Commercial phytoremediation involves 80 percent organic and 20 percent inorganic contaminants [Pilon-Smits 2005].