Phytovolatilization refers to the uptake and transpiration of contaminants, primarily organic compounds, by plants. The contaminant, present in the water taken up by the plant, passes through the plant or is modified by the plant, and is released to the atmosphere (evaporates or vaporizes).

Results of one study confirmed that poplar trees volatilize 90% of the trichloroethylene (TCE) they extracted from the ground [1].

Performance data of a phytovolatilization field investigation is summarized in Table 1.

Table 1. Performance data of a phytovolatilization field investigation [2].






refinery wastes and agricultural soils


Brassica sp.

Se partly taken-up and volatilized; soil decontamination difficult

San Francisco, CA

1. EPA, 1998, A Citizen's Guide to Phytoremediation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, EPA 542-F-98-011, August.

2. Schnoor, J.L., 1997, Phytoremediation, Technology Overview Report, Ground-Water Remediation Technologies Analysis Center, Series E, Vol. 1, October.

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