U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

Phytotechnology Project Profiles

Description of the Web Site

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation (OSRTI) is interested in providing federal and state project managers and others with timely information about the developments in the field of phytotechnology. This Web site contains information about completed and on-going worldwide full-, field-, and large greenhouse-scale phytotechnology applications. As of August 2011, the website included information on 180 phytotechnology projects. Profiles include contaminants in soil, groundwater, surface water, and sediments. These profiles also include wetland application. For alternative landfill covers go to

This Web site can be used as a networking tool (each profile lists a contact) to identify past solutions and lessons learned that would apply to new sites with similar contaminants and climate. In addition, cost and performance data on phytotechnology projects to date have been minimal. As a result, a goal of this project is to acquire more data on cost and performance for various phytotechnology projects.

Several mechanisms have been used in phytotechnology projects, including some that control groundwater hydraulics or that degrade, extract, contain, or immobilize contaminants. The following types of phytotechnology mechanisms are included in project profiles on this Web site:

  • Hydraulic control refers to use of plants to remove contaminated groundwater through uptake and consumption to contain or control migration of contaminants. This mechanism is used to contain water-soluble organic or inorganic contaminants.
  • Phytodegradation (also known as phytotransformation) involves the breakdown of contaminants taken up by plants through metabolic processes within the plants, or the breakdown of contaminants outside the plants caused by plant-produced enzymes.
  • Phytoextraction is the uptake of contaminants by plant roots and the translocation of the contaminants within the plants. Contaminants are removed by harvesting the plants. Phytoextraction is used to treat soil, sediments, and sludges contaminated with metals, metalloids, and radionuclides.
  • Phytostabilization is the immobilization of a contaminant in soil through absorption and accumulation by roots, absorption onto roots, or precipitation within the root zone of plants. Phytostabilization involves the use of plants and plant roots to prevent contaminant migration via wind and water erosion, leaching, and soil dispersion. Phytostabilization processes occur through changes in root zone microbiology and chemistry. This mechanism is typically used for metal-contaminated soil, sludges, and sediments.
  • Phytovolatilization is the uptake and transpiration of a contaminant by plants and the release of the contaminant or a modified form of the contaminant to the atmosphere as a result of contaminant uptake, metabolism, and transpiration. Phytovolatilization has been used for groundwater, soil, sediments, and sludges contaminated with chlorinated solvents, as well as some inorganic contaminants, such as selenium, arsenic, and mercury.
  • Rhizodegradation is the breakdown of an organic contaminant in soil through microbial activity that is enhanced by the presence of a root zone. In rhizodegradation, plant roots are used to create an environment that is more conducive to microbial activity by adding root exudates, increasing soil aeration, or increasing soil moisture. Rhizodegradation has been used for soil, sediments, and sludges contaminated with chlorinated solvents, pesticides, petroleum hydrocarbons, and polychlorinated biphenyls.
  • Rhizofiltration is the adsorption or precipitation of contaminants onto plant roots, or the absorption of contaminants into the roots as a result of biotic or abiotic processes. Contaminants are removed by harvesting the plants. Extracted groundwater, surface water, and wastewater can be treated using this technology.

The phytotechnology project profiles on the Web site describe the use of phytotechnology at specific sites. The profiles contain a summary of available information, including:

  • Site Information
    • Site name, location, and cleanup program
    • Entity responsible for cleanup
    • Site type
  • Project Information
    • Project status and scale
    • Site history and background
    • Project start and end dates
    • Contaminants treated
    • Media treated (type and quantity)
    • Site geology
    • Phytotechnology mechanisms
    • Plants and other vegetation used
    • Planting description and acreage
    • Evapotranspiration rates
    • Climate data
    • Operations and maintenance (O&M) requirements
    • Phytotechnology performance and cost
    • Lessons learned
  • Additional Information
    • Associated vendors or consultants
    • Points of contact
    • References

The phytotechnology project profiles provide varying level of detail, depending on the data and information available.

Data Sources

EPA obtained data from technical journals, conference proceedings, and information provided by various technology vendors and site managers to prepare the profiles.

How to Search the Web Site

The Web site provides a search engine that allows a user to search the profiles by site name, country, state, EPA region, vegetation type, phytotechnology type, contaminant, media, project status, or project scale. A user may also select the button "List All," which presents a list of all available profiles. Search results are listed alphabetically by project name.

How to Provide Updates about a Phytotechnology Project Profile or to Submit a New Profile

To provide information about a new or updated phytotechnology project, please download the project submittal form, enter all relevant details about the project, and e-mail the form, along with any supporting documents, to Ed Gilbert at

To provide updates about a project profile, please contact Ed Gilbert of EPA's OSRTI at, or by telephone at (703) 603-8883, with the updated information you would like to include.

Additional Resources

EPA resources containing general information about Phytotechnology projects are available in the Phytoremediation section of CLU-IN's Technology Focus. Other sources of information include:
Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council
Phytoremediation Decision Tree

Phytotechnology Technical and Regulatory Guidance Documents

International Journal of Phytoremediation

International Phytoremediation

U.S. Department of Agriculture PLANTS National Database

Wildlife Habitat Council

Future Plans for the Web Site

EPA is preparing more profiles and links for more information on phytotechnology projects as information becomes available.

Feedback on this Web Site

Send your feedback and comments to Ed Gilbert of EPA's OSRTI, by e-mail at, or by telephone at (703) 603-8883.

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