Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
Review article
13 Feb 2014
Review article |  | 13 Feb 2014

Use of phytoremediation and biochar to remediate heavy metal polluted soils: a review

J. Paz-Ferreiro, H. Lu, S. Fu, A. Méndez, and G. Gascó

Abstract. Anthropogenic activities are resulting in an increase of the use and extraction of heavy metals. Heavy metals cannot be degraded and hence accumulate in the environment, having the potential to contaminate the food chain. This pollution threatens soil quality, plant survival and human health. The remediation of heavy metals deserves attention, but it is impaired by the cost of these processes. Phytoremediation and biochar are two sound environmental technologies which could be at the forefront to mitigate soil pollution. This review provides an overview of the state of the art of the scientific research on phytoremediation and biochar application to remediate heavy-metal-contaminated soils. Research to date has attempted only in a limited number of occasions to combine both techniques, however we discuss the potential advantages of combining both, and the potential mechanisms involved in the interaction between phytoremediators and biochar. We identified specific research needs to ensure a sustainable use of phytoremediation and biochar as remediation tools.