J.L. Gardea-Torresdey1, L. Polette, S. Arteaga, K.J. Tiemann, J. Bibb, and J.H. Gonzalez, Department of Chemistry, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, 79968, Phone: 915-747-5359, FAX: 915-747-5748, 1Email:

ABSTRACT The content of copper, lead, cadmium, and nickel on tissues of Larrea tridentata grown around a contaminated area was determined by atomic absorption spectroscopy. The area was divided into six sections, and each section was studied. Analyses were performed on sample roots, stems, leaves, as well as the soil where the plant grew. Roots showed a high content of the metals, followed by the leaves, and finally the stems, which had the lowest content of the metals. Lead concentrations in roots, leaves, and stems were 650 mg/Kg, 150 mg/Kg, and 110 mg/Kg, respectively, while copper concentrations were 953 mg/Kg, 493 mg/Kg, and 370 mg/Kg, respectively. In contrast, cadmium and nickel concentrations were lower and varied from 30 mg/Kg on roots, 37 mg/Kg on leaves, and 10 mg/Kg on stems for cadmium, and the content of nickel found ranged from 27 mg/Kg on roots, 23 mg/Kg on leaves, and 10 mg/Kg on stems. Soil concentrations were high in site 4 for lead and copper, 5,067 mg/Kg and 4,933 mg/Kg, respectively; lower concentrations were found for cadmium and nickel, 117 mg/Kg and 17 mg/Kg, respectively. The heavy metal content of the soils indicates the degree of pollution in the area. As expected, those sections which contained higher levels of heavy metals in the soil also showed to have higher heavy metal uptake by various parts of Larrea tridentata. These data demonstrate Larrea tridentata's ability to uptake copper and lead, and to some extent cadmium and nickel, from heavy metal contaminated soils. Analyses of other heavy metals will also be examined.

KEYWORDS: Larrea tridentata, hazardous heavy metals, environmental analyses, pollution, atomic absorption spectroscopy

This paper is from the Proceedings of the HSRC/WERC Joint Conference on the Environment, May 1996, published in hard copy and on the Web by the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Hazardous Substance Research Center.

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