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A Review on Heavy Metals Contamination in Soil: Effects, Sources, and Remediation Techniques

Li, Changfeng, Zhou, Kehai, Qin, Wenqiang, Tian, Changjiu, Qi, Miao, Yan, Xiaoming, Han, Wenbing
Soil & sediment contamination 2019 v.28 no.4 pp. 380-394
agricultural products, agroecosystems, anthropogenic activities, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cost effectiveness, food chain, heavy metals, humans, hyperaccumulators, lead, mercury, phytoremediation, polluted soils, pollution, risk, toxicity
Soil heavy metal pollution has become a worldwide environmental issue that has attracted considerable public attention, largely from the increasing concern for the security of agricultural products. Heavy metals refer to some metals and metalloids possessing biological toxicity, such as cadmium, mercury, arsenic, lead, and chromium. These elements enter the soil agro-ecosystem through natural processes derived from parent materials, and through anthropogenic activities. Heavy metal pollution poses a great threat to the health and well-being of organisms and human beings due to potential accumulation risk through the food chain. Remediation using chemical, physical, and biological methods has been adopted to solve the problem. Phytoremediation has proven to be a promising alternative to conventional approaches as it is cost effective, environmentally friendly, and aesthetically pleasing. To date, based on the natural ability of extraction, approximately 500 taxa have been identified as hyperaccumulators of one or more metals. In addition, further research integrating biotechnological approaches with comprehensive multidisciplinary research is needed to improve plant tolerance and reduce the accumulation of toxic metals in soils. This review discusses harmful effects, sources of heavy metals, and the remediation technologies for soil contaminated by heavy metals.