Accumulation of perchlorate in aquatic and terrestrial plants at a field scale

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Previous laboratory-scale studies have documented perchlorate (ClO 4- uptake by different plant species, but less information is available at field scale, where ClO4- uptake may be affected by environmental conditions, such as distance to streams or shallow water tables, exposure duration, and species. This study examined uptake of ClO4 in smartweed (Polygonum spp.) and watercress (Nasturtium spp.) as well as more than forty trees, including ash (Fraxinus greggii A. Gray), chinaberry (Melia azedarach L.), elm (Ulmus parvifolia Jacq.), willow (Salix nigra Marshall), mulberry [Broussonetia papyrifera (L.) Vent.], and hackberry (Celtis laevigata Willd.) from multiple streams surrounding a perchlorate-contaminated site. Results indicate a large potential for ClO 4- accumulation in aquatic and terrestrial plants, with ClO4- concentration in plant tissues approximately 100 times higher than that in bulk water. Perchlorate accumulation in leaves of terrestrial plants was also dependent on species, with hackberry, willow, and elm having a strong potential to accumulate ClO4-. Generally, trees located closer to the stream had a higher ClO4 - accumulation than trees located farther away from the stream. Seasonal leaf sampling of terrestrial plants indicated that ClO4 - accumulation also was affected by exposure duration, with highest accumulation observed in the late growing cycle, although leaf concentrations for a given tree were highly variable. Perchlorate may be re-released into the environment via leaching and rainfall as indicated by lower perchlorate concentrations in collected leaf litter. Information obtained from this study will be helpful to understand the fate of ClO4- in macrophytes and natural systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1638-1646
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2004


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