Phytoecology Assessments

Pollutech's monitoring teams, analytical services group and Professional Biologists have teamed together on a number of occasions to provide unique services related to aquatic and terrestrial botanical investigations. Given the knowledge that plants play a critical role in our ecosystem and that they also act as prime indicators of natural or man-made pollution, Pollutech has executed a number of investigations to examine these environmental effects using the process of phytotoxicology.

Typical investigative projects in the field of phytotoxicology include:

  • placement of plants around atmospheric emission sources to monitor the discharge of specific pollutants, using sensitive plant species;
  • collection and analysis of naturally occurring plants to determine the accumulation of contaminants in the environment; and
  • development of new techniques to use phytotoxicology as an investigative tool in environmental effects monitoring.

In addition to investigative programs, Pollutech's biologists routinely interact with the process engineering group and geotechnical team, to investigate the role of plants in the remediation of contaminated systems. It is well known that certain plants, whether aquatic or terrestrial, have specific affinities for organic and inorganic pollutants. Specific algae species, for example, are able to degrade complex organic molecules in waste treatment systems, or assist in nutrient removal from conventional sewage treatment plants. Grasses are known to selectively extract ions from soils, which can be optimized to perform phytoremediation of contaminated sites.

Typically the use of plants in phytoremediation includes projects such as:

  • evaluation of specific plants for the removal of contaminants in brownfield remediation projects;
  • development of aquatic and terrestrial "wetland systems" to treat the discharges from municipal and industrial waste streams; and
  • mixed culture systems of conventional biomass and algae cultures for implementation in sewage treatment systems.

Pollutech's team is also available to conduct studies for environmental assessment projects and the conventional examination of ecological systems.

Typical Examples of Pollutech's Phytoecology Experience include, but are not limited to: 

  • Development of the method specific pyrohydrolysis techniques for fluoride analysis of soils, plant material and air emissions to assist in the investigation of phytotoxicology from industrial sources;
  • Investigation of arsenic emissions from gold smelting operations through the collection and examination of naturally occurring plants, commercially grown vegetables and standard "moss bag" examination techniques;
  • Evaluation of the impact of fluoride emissions from clay brick operations across Canada and the German "Black Forest" by combining raw material fluoride analysis, stack emission testing and localized vegetation analysis;

    • Technical and economic evaluations of phytoremediation as a means to remove zinc contamination from an abandoned zinc oxide manufacturing site, giving consideration to removal rates, soil conditions and zinc recovery from the plants after harvesting;
    • Evaluation of "suspended growth" algae systems for the removal of organic and inorganic phosphorus compounds from domestic sewage, in combination with or distinct from conventional activated sludge systems;
    • Field investigations on the role of naturally occurring grasses on the process of sand dune succession on the near shores of Lake Huron;
    • Completion of a site assessment of a ceramic based metal coating operation by combining isokinetic stack sampling for fluoride emissions with HI-VOL (high volume) ambient air testing and vegetative stress analysis;
    • Development and evaluation of techniques to combine conventional soil extraction techniques with phytoremediation processes for the removal of arsenic, barium, beryllium, copper, lead and zinc for the remediation of coal fired boiler residues at an integrated food based manufacturing site;
    • Identification of plant species and subsequent development of impact evaluation techniques to determine the environmental effects of landfill leachate and site development for a regional solid waste landfill site, all in accordance with the Consolidated Hearings Act;
    • Site investigation for the evaluation of a proposed expansion of a foundry operation, through the evaluation of metals content of corn stalk samples, for presentation to the Ontario Municipal Board;
    • Collection and placement of aquatic plants for the design and construction of wetland treatment systems for domestic and industrial waste discharges.
    • Contact Us to discuss how Pollutech can help with your Phytoecology needs.