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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Wetlands and Aquatic Processes

Effects of Plants on the Removal of Hexavalent Chromium in Wetland Sediments


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 35 No. 1, p. 334-341
    Received: May 10, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): shangping.xu@yale.edu
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  1. Shangping Xu * and
  2. Peter R. Jaffé
  1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544


The effect of two wetland plants, Typha latifolia L. (cattail) and Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud (common reed), on the fate of Cr(VI) in wetland sediments was investigated using greenhouse bench-scale microcosm experiments. The removal of Cr(VI) was monitored based on the vertical profiles of aqueous Cr(VI) in the sediments. The Cr(VI) removal rates were estimated taking into account plant transpiration, which was found to significantly concentrate dissolved species in the sediments. After correcting for evapotranspiration, the actual Cr(VI) removal rates were significantly higher than would be inferred from uncorrected profiles. On average, the Cr(VI) removal rates were 0.005 to 0.017 mg L−1 d−1, 0.0003 to 0.08 mg L−1 d−1, and 0.004 to 0.13 mg L−1 d−1 for the control, T. latifolia, and P. australis microcosms, respectively. The fate of the removed Cr(VI) was examined by determining the quantity and chemical speciation of the Cr in the sediment and plant materials. Chromium(III) was the dominant form of Cr in both the sediment and plants, and precipitation of Cr(III) in the sediment was the major pathway responsible for the disappearance of aqueous Cr(VI) from the pore water. Incubation results showed that abiotic reduction was the primary mechanism underlying Cr(VI) removal in the microcosm sediments. Organic compounds produced by plants, including root exudates and mineralization products of dead roots, are thought to be the factor that is either directly or indirectly responsible for the gap between Cr(VI) removal efficiencies in the sediments of the vegetated and unvegetated microcosms.

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