a blog about plants, cats and other lovely creatures

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

sunflowers to heal contaminated soil in Fukushima

Activists are asking people to plant and grow sunflowers with a goal of decontaminating soil made radioactive in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. A group of young entrepreneurs and civil servants are asking volunteers to grow sunflowers, then send the seeds to the Fukushima area where they will be planted next year to help clean the soil of contamination.

The process of extracting contaminants from the soil via plants is called phytoremediation. While animals can move away from pollutants or other toxics (if they’re lucky), plants have evolved ways to live with the toxics and eventually extract them from the soil. The downside is that the concentrated pollutants, such as radioactivity or lead, can then pass along the food chain if not disposed of properly. 

Fungi, bacteria and plants have remarkable properties that can help clean up the messes that we humans create. While no one solution will solve the problem of irradiated soil and the struggling farmers, it’s always wise to look to nature first for the processes that can heal the land.
Read the whole article here