Due to the growing current trend around the world of drinking water from underground sources, in an attempt to replace heavily polluted surface water supplies, arsenic is causing a global epidemic of poisoning with hundreds of millions of people now being thought at serious risk in many countries. Phytoremediation (bioremediation mediated by plants) has been proposed as an effective tool in arsenic cleanup. Actually, some plants (most notably, the Chinese brake fern Pteris vittata) have been reported to be suitable for arsenic phytoremediation. In this respect, transgenic plants are being developed to improve their capacity to accumulate arsenic. Most interestingly, rhizofiltration (use of plants to absorb or adsorb pollutants from water) is being considered for the ex situ and in situ remediation of arsenic-contaminated water. Similarly, some plants show great potential to remove arsenic from polluted soil. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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