this story pushed me over the edge
Sunday, May 14, 2006, 11:48 AM - General, FoodLast year I was listening to Earth Watch Radio , and this story is what pushed me over the edge to eating more organic veges. I finally moved my butt to find it, so I could share. The link at the bottom of the page, it is also interesting for more information.
A Helpful But Hazardous Harvest
Scientists clean up chemicals like PCBs with help from vegetables like pumpkins and zucchini.
By Richard Hoops
Some toxic chemicals that were taken out of production during the 1970s are extremely persistent and still linger in the environment. In North America, some places are still tainted by the pesticide DDT and industrial chemicals known as PCBs. Scientists are testing plants to see if they can clean up these places, and they say pumpkins and zucchini do the job pretty well.
Ken Reimer is an environmental scientist at the Royal Military College of Canada. Reimer is testing different kinds of plants as tools for cleaning up contaminated soil. He says pumpkins and zucchini are exceptionally good at dislodging chemicals that are bonded to soil particles. The plants pull the chemicals out of the soil and absorb them into their tissue. Over a period of time, they might be able to clean up some contaminated sites and make them safe to be used again.
Reimer says this use of vegetables is still experimental. But he says it's drawing attention from people who envision new uses for land that is now off limits.
"We've had a lot of interest from developers who are looking at buying brownfield sites -- former industrial sites that aren't being used right now -- and they're looking at long-term development, perhaps 10 or 15 years into the future. And so if they had a means of relatively passive remediation that may take that period of time but is not very labor intensive, not very cost intensive, this is ideal."
Reimer says this kind of garden variety clean-up would still require precautions to protect people and wildlife. The plants would need to be fenced off to keep anybody or anything from wandering away with zucchini and pumpkins that might be ripening into industrial-strength hazardous waste.
Script for Monday, October 03, 2005