Phytoremediation of
“Contaminants of Emerging Concern”
Corbett Landes, Kim Fewless, and Meg Hollowed
November 11, 2010
BZ 572
Prevalence in the Environment
 Found in 80% of U.S. streams
 Largely either very hydrophilic or hydrophobic compounds
 Most frequently
 steroids
 non-prescription drugs
 insect repellent
 detergent metabolites
 disinfectants
 Highest
 steroids
 non-prescription drugs
 detergent metabolites
 plasticizers
 disinfectants
 antibiotics
Why do we care about pharmaceuticals,
hormones, and other organic wastewater
 Low concentrations, but:
 many compounds aren’t regulated
 fate and transport of metabolites aren’t
well understood
 potential for interactive effects
 Where do they come from?
 wastewater treatment plant effluent
 agricultural operations/runoff
 Organizations currently engaged in
research: EPA, WHO, USGS, etc.
Potential applications for phytoremediation
 Municipal wastewater treatment
 Feedlot or dairy farm waste stream treatment
 Agricultural runoff abatement
 Agricultural Sources:
 Growth promotion and disease prevention
 Released to the environment through:
 feedlot runoff streams
 leaks
 runoff from manure-applied agriculture
 Consequences
 antibiotic resistant microorganisms
Antibiotics Cont:
 CSU study
 Aquatic plants
 Parrot feather (M.aquaticum) and water lettuce (P. stratiotes)
 Hairy root cultures of sunflower (H.annuus)
 Antibiotics: tetracycline and oxytetracycline
 Mechanism: degradation by root-secreted enzymes
 Conversion of former shrimp aquaculture
facilities contaminated with antibiotics and
with elevated salinity
 Antibiotics: oxytetracycline, norfloxacin
 Tested soybean for uptake/degradation,
affect of salinity and antibiotics on soybean
 Translocation did not occur
 Antibiotic accumulation only in root tissue
 Kow=-0.9 and -1.8
 Can be moved into plants
 Causes irrevocable damage in most plants tested
 Most success found in Lupinus albus
Phragmites australis
Hormones/Endocrine Disruptors
 Removal of phenolic endocrine disruptors by Portulaca oleracea
 Specifically bisphenol A
 Could potentially be used as a cash crop
Steroids in Swine Wastewater
 Anaerobic lagoon and constructed wetlands
 Shown to decrease estrogen activity by 83-93%
 Estrone was the most persistent compound
 Also decreases nutrient content
Constructed Wetlands
Dordio (2010)
Microcosm CW
Ibuprofen, carbamazepine,
clofibric acid
Seasonal variability, adsorption to clay,
Song (2009)
Variation of wetland depth
Estrone, 17-estradiol,
Shallow depth, aerobic, high root density
Conkle (2010)
Constructed Wetland
Ciprofloxacin, ofloxin,
norfloxin (fluoroquin)
Sorption, drugs of same family compete
for sorption sites
Ibuprofen, carbamazepine,
caffeine (13)
Biodegradation and sorption –
effectiveness: VF>SF/WWTP>HF
Pond, SF & SSF CW vs.
Ibuprofen, carbamazepine,
caffeine (10)
aerobic, microbiological
Mesocosm CW (3)
Ibuprofen, carbamazepine,
caffeine (10)
Correlated with temp and redox potential
 microbiological
Aquatic Plants
Atrazine, ibuprofen, 2,4D, triclosan (7)
Enhanced microbial degradation,
sorption, uptake
Shi (2010)
Duckweed v. Algae
Estrone, 17-estradiol,
Both algae and duckweed accelerated
degradation through sorption and
microbial degradation
Summary: constructed wetlands
 Wetlands and other aquatic phytoremediation of
PPCPs works as well as traditional treatment
 Application in developing countries
 May be more cost effective
 Variation in degradation requirements
 Anaerobic/aerobic
 Temperature
 Photolysis
 Sorption/degradation
 Use patterns (Macleod, 2010)
 Some success has been achieved with specific
 Must consider risks:
 Invasive species
 Metabolites
 Ability to remediate a mixture of compounds
 Research is still being conducted to
understand the fate and transport of
 At this time, no single plant or constructed
wetland set-up can remove all PPCPs in
wastewater treatment plant effluent
References (1)
 Bartha et al. (2010). Effects of acetominophen in Brassica juncea L. Czern: investigation of
uptake, translocation, detoxification, and the induced defense pathways. Env. Sci. Pollut. Res.,
17, 1553-1562.
Boonsaner, M. and Hawker, D.W. (2010). Accumulation of oxytetracycline and norfloxacin
from saline soil by soybeans. Sci of the Total Env, 408, 1731-1737.
Conkle JL et al. (2010) Competitive sorption and desorption behavior for three
fluoroquinolone antibiotics in a wastewater treatment wetland soil. Chemosphere 80, 13531359.
Dordio A et al. (2010) Removal of pharmaceuticals in microcosm constructed wetlands using
Typha spp. and LECA. BioresourceTechnology 101, 886-892.
Hijosa-Valsero M et al. (2010a) Assessment of full-scale natural systems for the removal of
PPCPs from wastewater in small communites. Water Research 44, 1429-1439.
Hijosa-Valsero M et al. (2010b) Comprehensive assessment of the design configuration of
constructed wetlands for the removal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products from
urban wastewaters. Water Research 44, 3669-3678.
Gujarathi et al. (2005). Phytoremediation potential of M.aquaticum and P.stratiotes to modify
antibiotic growth promoters, tetracycline and oxytetracycline, in aqueous wastewater
systems. Int. Journal of Phytoremediation, 7, 99-112.
References (2)
 Gujarthi et al. (2005). Hairy roots of H.annuus: a model system to study the
phytoremediation of tetracycline and oxytetracycline. Biotech. Prog. 21, 775780.
Imai et al. (2007). Removal of phenolic endocrine disruptors by Portulaca
oleracea. Journal of Bioscience and Bioengr., 103(5), 420-426.
Kolpin et al. (2002). Pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other organic wastewater
contaminants in U.S. streams, 1999-2000: a national reconaissance. Env. Sci. &
Tech., 36, 1202-1211.
Kotyza et al. (2010). Phytoremediation of pharmaceuticals- preliminary study.
Int. Journal of Phytoremediation, 12, 306-316.
MacLeod, SL et al. (2010) Loadings, trends, comparisons, and fate of achiral
and chiral pharmaceuticals in wastewaters from urban tertiary and rural aerated
lagoon treatments. Water research 44, 533-544.
Reinhold D et al. (2010) Assessment of plant-driven removal of emerging
organic pollutants by duckweed. Chemosphere 80, 687-692.
References (3)
 Matamoros et al. (2007). Removal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products
(PPCPs) from urban wastewater in a pilot vertical flow constructed wetland and a
sand filter. Env. Sci. & Tech., 41, 8171-8177.
Pedersen et al. (2005). Human pharmaceutical, hormones, and personal care
product ingredients in runoff from agricultural fields irrigated with treated
wastewater. J. Agr. Food. Chem., 53, 1625-1632.
Schroder et al. (2007). Using phytoremediation technologies to upgrade wastewater
treatment in Europe. Env. Sci. Pollut. Res., 14 (7), 490-497.
Shappell et. al. (2007). Estrogenic activity and steroid hormones in swine
wastewater through a lagoon constructed-wetland system. Env. Sci. and Tech., 41,
Shi W. et al. (2010) Removal of estrone, 17α-ethinylestradiol, and 17 –estradiol in
algae and duckweed-based wastewater treatment systems. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res
17, 824-833.
Song HL et al. (2009) Estrogen removal from treated municipal effluent in smallscale constructed wetland with different depth. Bioresource Technology 100, 29452951.
Topp et al. (2008). Runoff of pharmaceuticals and personal care products following
application of biosolids to an agricultural field. Sci. of the Total Env., 396, 52-59.

Phytoremediation of Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, and other Organic