Environmental hazards related to Miscanthus x giganteus cultivation on heavy metal contaminated soil
1 Department of Environmental Biotechnology, Phytoremediation Team, Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas (IETU), 6 Kossutha St., 40-844 Katowice, Poland
2 Faculty of Environmental Protection and Engineering, Częstochowa University of Technology, 60A Brzeźnicka St., 42-200 Częstochowa, Poland
According to recent estimates reaching the target of a 20% share of renewable energy sources (RES) in the final energy balance in Poland by 2020 will result in the demand for more than 8 million tons of biomass, which, in turn, will entail the necessity of creating large-scale energy crop plantations. According to EU assumptions the most effective way to produce biomass for energy purposes is cultivation of energy crops in agricultural areas. It is particularly vital for Poland, because these areas constitute a relatively large part of the country (59%), 76% of them being used as farmlands. In Silesia, the most industrialized region of the country, 5-10% of agricultural soils are contaminated with cadmium, lead and zinc. The main objective of the presented study was to estimate the accumulation of heavy metals in the tissues of Miscanthus x giganteus grown on contaminated soils and calculate concentrations of Pb, Cd and Zn in crops. It was shown that the large intake of heavy metals by that species could cause high emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere during its improper combustion. As a side effect, winter harvesting led to the loss of even 30% of biomass. Plant residues (leaves) can be the source of pollution after decomposing and releasing metals back into the soil. Moreover, miscanthus leaves can be transferred by wind to the surrounding areas. It is very likely that ash coming from the combustion of contaminated biomass cannot be used as a fertilizer.
Key words: Miscanthus x giganteus / soil contamination / heavy metals
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