Evaluating Plant Diversity and Pollution Cleanup Potential Near a Power Plant

Jenn Hoskins
5th June, 2024

Evaluating Plant Diversity and Pollution Cleanup Potential Near a Power Plant

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study, conducted near a thermal power plant, documented 26 tree species, six shrubs, and 35 herbs in the area
  • Aquatic plants generally accumulated more metals than terrestrial plants, with herbs and shrubs showing greater metal accumulation potential than trees
  • Specific plants like Senna siamea, Ageratina adenophora, and Stuckenia pectinata were identified as effective for reclaiming metals from contaminated soils and water
The research conducted by CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute[1] focuses on evaluating the phytodiversity and metal accumulation potential of native plants near a thermal power plant (TPP). This study is crucial because coal-fired power plants, which still generate more than 65% of India's electricity, significantly impact air, soil, and water quality. The study documented 26 tree species, six shrubs, and 35 herbs in the area surrounding the TPP. The Importance Value Index (IVI), which measures a species' dominance in an area, was highest for Senna siamea (95.7), followed by Tectona grandis (56.5) and Pithecellobium dulce (19.6). The soil was found to be acidic (pH 5.4), with higher concentrations of aluminum (Al) and iron (Fe). The groundwater was also acidic, whereas the nearby river water was slightly alkaline. Ambient air quality measurements showed that PM2.5 and PM10 levels slightly exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for industrial areas. The study's results indicate that aquatic plants generally accumulated more metals than terrestrial plants. Among the terrestrial plants, herbs and shrubs showed greater metal accumulation potential than trees. Specifically, Senna siamea was identified as suitable for revegetation of fly-ash (FA) landfills. Additionally, terrestrial and aquatic plants like Ageratina adenophora and Stuckenia pectinata were found effective for reclaiming manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), aluminum (Al), and iron (Fe) from contaminated soils. Hydrilla verticillata, Nelumbo nucifera, and Ipomoea aquatica were noted for their ability to remove nickel (Ni), Mn, and chromium (Cr) from contaminated water. This study builds on earlier research that has highlighted the environmental and health risks posed by heavy metal contamination due to industrial activities[2]. Heavy metals are nonbiodegradable and accumulate in the environment, contaminating the food chain and posing risks such as carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, and neurological damage[2]. Traditional remediation methods are often costly and labor-intensive, making phytoremediation—using plants to detoxify polluted environments—a more attractive solution due to its cost-effectiveness and eco-friendliness[2]. Previous studies have also demonstrated the potential of native plants in remediating heavy metal contamination. For instance, research conducted near the National Thermal Power Corporation in Tanda, Uttar Pradesh, India, identified Hydrilla verticillata as an efficient metal accumulator among aquatic plants, and Eclipta alba among terrestrial plants[3]. This aligns with the current study's findings that aquatic plants generally show higher metal accumulation potential. Another relevant study investigated the response of Helianthus annuus L. to chromium (Cr) toxicity, revealing that the plant could tolerate and accumulate Cr due to its antioxidative mechanisms[4]. This supports the current study's identification of specific plants like Nelumbo nucifera and Ipomoea aquatica for Cr removal from contaminated water. In summary, the research conducted by CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute provides valuable insights into the phytodiversity around a thermal power plant and identifies native plants with high potential for heavy metal accumulation. By leveraging these plants for phytoremediation, we can effectively address the environmental contamination caused by coal-fired power plants, thereby enhancing biodiversity, restoring habitats, and improving the overall ecological health of the affected areas.

EnvironmentEcologyPlant Science


Main Study

1) Assessment of phytodiversity and phytoremediation potential of plants in the vicinity of a thermal power plant.

Published 4th June, 2024


Related Studies

2) Phytoremediation of heavy metals--concepts and applications.


3) Screening of native plants and algae growing on fly-ash affected areas near National Thermal Power Corporation, Tanda, Uttar Pradesh, India for accumulation of toxic heavy metals.


4) Photosynthesis, lipid peroxidation, and antioxidative responses of Helianthus annuus L. against chromium (VI) accumulation.


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