Date of Award

Winter 12-2001

Document Type


Degree Name

Honors College Theses



Second Advisor

Dr. Joyce W. O'Rourke

Third Advisor

Dr. Beverly Wade


Over the past several decades, health and environmental risks of pollution have become apparent. As a result, environmental regulations have been created to remediate areas where environmental contamination is tremendous, therefore, a low-cost alternative to the already existing technology is needed. Using plants to eliminate hazardous organic compounds from contaminated soils has been proposed as an efficient means of remediation. Phytoremediation is the direct use of living green plants to remediate soil, sludge, sediments and ground water contaminated with toxic compounds. The four processes of phytoremediation are rhizofiltration, phytoextraction, phytostabilization and phytodegradation. As they 'grow and develop, plants will use one of these processes to take in dissolved organic contaminants. Phytoremediation has several advantages over traditional procedures such as on-site management and excavation. It is an inexpensive, non-intrusive process that requires little input past the initial seeding and establishment and may be more effective than unvegetated bioremediation. Some plants have a natural ability to absorb, and hyperaccumulate trace elements in their tissues. This ability is being harnessed to remove toxic heavy metals and trace elements from contaminated soils and water. The purpose of this research is to determine which process of phytoremediation the Chinese Tallow plant uses to uptake lead by exposing the plant to different concentrations of the metal, and analyzing the parts of the plant (roots, stems, leaves, soil) using atomic absorption. The results of this study reveal that the Chinese Tallow plant uses the process of rhizofiltration to remediate soils contaminated with lead when exposed to high concentrations of the metal.

Included in

Chemistry Commons