Common plants as alternative analytical tools to monitor heavy metals in soil

Daniela Malizia, Antonella Giuliano, Giancarlo Ortaggi, Andrea Masotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Herbaceous plants are common vegetal species generally exposed, for a limited period of time, to bioavailable environmental pollutants. Heavy metals contamination is the most common form of environmental pollution. Herbaceous plants have never been used as natural bioindicators of environmental pollution, in particular to monitor the amount of heavy metals in soil. In this study, we aimed at assessing the usefulness of using three herbaceous plants (Plantago major L., Taraxacum officinale L. and Urtica dioica L.) and one leguminous (Trifolium pratense L.) as alternative indicators to evaluate soil pollution by heavy metals.Results: We employed Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES) to assess the concentration of selected heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Mn, Pb, Cr and Pd) in soil and plants and we employed statistical analyses to describe the linear correlation between the accumulation of some heavy metals and selected vegetal species. We found that the leaves of Taraxacum officinale L. and Trifolium pratense L. can accumulate Cu in a linearly dependent manner with Urtica dioica L. representing the vegetal species accumulating the highest fraction of Pb.Conclusions: In this study we demonstrated that common plants can be used as an alternative analytical tool for monitoring selected heavy metals in soil.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberS6
JournalChemistry Central Journal
Issue numberSUPPL.2
Publication statusPublished - May 2 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


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