Prelims Level
Mains Level

GS3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Why in news?

Researchers have identified a native roadside plant known as ‘Bhringraj’ that can take up
lead from the soil and thus help in removing the metal from the environment.

Highlights:

  • The plant may be using the lead to protect itself from the pests, or other predators. Tribal people use it an antidote for snake bites and treatment of scorpion stings.
  • Hi-tech microscopic analysis showed that the lead travelled to the leaves and was deposited as lead nanoparticles in its cell wall, cytoplasm, and chloroplast.
  • The plants can be burned up after they have taken up the lead. In this way, the metal can be effectively contained and later disposed off safely.
  • The plant was found to accumulate lead at about 12,000 microgram/g of dry weight in the root and 7,000 microgram/g of dry weight in its shoot.
  • These plants grow in soils that are continuously exposed to lead from vehicle exhausts.
  • It is a significant further step in using the plant for bioremediation of lead-contaminated soil.

Effects of Lead:

• Affects health particularly young children affecting the development of the brain and nervous system
• Biodiversity
• Affects ecosystem
• Affects soil productivity
• Agricultural productivity will decrease

Bioremediation:

Bioremediation is a process used to treat contaminated media, including water, soil and subsurface material, by altering environmental conditions to stimulate growth of microorganisms and degrade the target pollutants.

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