Metal uptake by xerothermic plants introduced into Zn-Pb industrial wastes.
The dusty surfaces of post-flotation wastes contain high concentrations of toxic compounds and spread widely if appropriate vegetation is not introduced. It has been previously established that effective restoration of such waste areas are best met by xerothermic, mycorrhiza-assisted plants (Turnau et al. Plant and Soil 305:267-280, 2008). The aim of the current study was to improve phytostabilisation practices by gaining insight into the elements uptake in plants after their change of habitat. Total Reflection X-ray Fluorescence (TXRF) was employed to evaluate element concentration in the leaves of 23 plant species growing in the wild and on Zn-Pb waste. Higher levels of heavy metals (Zn, Y, As, Pb, Cu) in plants from tailings were usually accompanied by increased Ca concentration, suggesting a possible role of this element in detoxification mechanisms. Also, when compared to grassland specimens, plants from the tailings, exhibited potassium-deficiency. Thus, K-supplementation of the waste substrata should be considered to improve plant growth. Among all the introduced plants, three grass species (Melica transsilvanica, Bromus inermis, Elymus hispidus) and one legume (Anthylis vulneraria) were the most suitable for phytostabilisation. Heavy metal-accumulating properties of Verbascum thapsus need further investigation.