Ph.D. Student (Biodiversity and Environment), Laboratory for Valorization of Natural biological Resources, SNV Faculty, Ferhat Abbas University Setif-1, Algeria
The environmental pollution by heavy metals and their accumulation have increased dramatically in the past decades, raising significant concerns worldwide. Heavy metals elements are not biodegradable and are prone to accumulate in living organisms as metallic trace elements (MTE). MTE is a group of metallic chemical elements from natural or anthropogenic sources. Many metallic elements are known for their toxicities. While some metals such as zinc, iron, and copper are essential for plants and animals, they can be very toxic to humans. The mitigation of MTE toxification risks in humans requires environmental monitoring to help to develop appropriate treatments, for example establishing safe disposal of pollutants. The implementation of quality monitoring of the contaminated environment is imperative to reduce pollutant levels, particularly in urban areas where metallic pollutants often act together, making it difficult to reveal their effects. One method of MTE monitoring in the contaminated environment uses chemical and physical technologies, however, this approach is neither environmentally friendly nor cost-effective, especially in large and unproductive urban areas; in addition, it requires huge financial and labor investment. Another monitoring method of MTE pollution is the use of bio accumulators, such as plants, in a diagnostic study. This method is very advantageous since the cost is low and it can be used on a large scale with high efficiency, offering an interesting tool to monitor heavy metal contamination in the air and soils (Belguidoum et al. 2020, 2021a and b). Several higher plants have been used to assess metal contamination in the air and soils because of their accumulation properties. Studies have shown that the leaves of higher plants adsorb MTE from wet and dry atmospheric deposition and accumulate metals from the soil and the atmosphere. Plant leaves are widely used as a bioindicator due to their ability to absorb air pollutants through the stomata, cuticle, or indirectly through uptake through the roots after deposition of air pollutants from the soil. Urban trees can remove some of the particles from the air because they have a large leaf area, capturing pollutants on the foliage. Besides the role of plants as bio-monitoring agents of polluted environments, a study by Belguidoum et al. (2020, 2021 a, b) showed that several plants are also very effective for phytoremediation of heavy metals, suggesting that they could be used to decontaminate environmental polluted by heavy metals.
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