Volunteers are being asked to grow sunflowers this year, then send the seeds to the stricken area where they will be planted next year to help get rid of radioactive contaminants in the plant's fallout zone.
The campaign, launched by young entrepreneurs and civil servants in Fukushima prefecture last month, aims to cover large areas in yellow blossoms as a symbol of hope and reconstruction and to lure back tourists.
"This is different from donations because people will grow the flowers, and a mother can tell her children that it is like an act of prayer for the reconstruction of the northeast," Handa said.
Process: This process is very similar to phytoextraction in that it removes contaminants by trapping them into harvestable plant biomass. Both phytoextraction and rhizofiltration follow the same basic path to remediation. First, plants are put in contact with the contamination. They absorb contaminants through their root systems and store them in root biomass and/or transport them up into the stems and/or leaves. The plants continue to absorb contaminants until they are harvested. The plants are then replaced to continue the growth/harvest cycle until satisfactory levels of contaminant are achieved. Both processes are also aimed more toward concentrating and precipitating heavy metals than organic contaminants. The major difference between rhizofiltration and phytoextraction is that rhizofiltration is used for treatment in aquatic environments, while phytoextraction deals with soil remediation.
This treatment method has its limits. Any contaminant that is below the rooting depth will not be extracted. The plants used may not be able to grow in highly contaminated areas. Most importantly, it can take years to reach regulatory levels. This results in long-term maintenance. Also, most contaminated sites are polluted with many different kinds of contaminants. There can be a combination of metals and organics, in which treatment through rhizofiltration will not suffice. Plants grown on polluted water and soils become a potential threat to human and animal health, and therefore, careful attention must be paid to the harvesting process and only non-fodder crop should be chosen for the rhizofiltration remediation method
Once the plants bloom, do we have to call a hazmat team to dispose of them?
Originally posted by irsuccubus
this makes me very glad that I grow a garden full of sunflowers this year. With things going in the direction that they are in the US...we might want to consider adopting it as a national flower and grow them in our victory gardens. Well...until its deemed a crime.
It moves the contaminants from the soil and concentrates them in the plants, which could render the plants hazardous. It would be interesting to know what to do with the plants. It does sound like it might help clean up the soil a bit though.
Originally posted by jvm222
Plants grown on polluted water and soils become a potential threat to human and animal health, and therefore, careful attention must be paid to the harvesting process
Apparently these toxic substances entered the food chain via grazers, such as cows and other livestock, that fed on plants grown in contaminated soils. The toxins then accumulated and concentrated in the meat and milk products eventually consumed by humans. Additionally, wild foods, such as berries and mushrooms, are expected to continue showing elevated cesium levels over the next few decades
You suppose correctly, burning would be a no-no, and there is some concern that might happen in some cases if people don't know any better.
Originally posted by speculativeoptimist
I suppose burning the saturated palnt material would be a no no, so I don't know what they do with it. I just hope none of the sseds ever make it to market!
Not weaponized, but they are considered radioactive waste if grown in an area where the soil is contaminated:
Originally posted by irsuccubus
hmmmm...weaponized sunflowers...interesting concept.
So they are doing this near Chernobyl and the plants are considered radioactive waste.
This sunflower project is one of many international efforts at phytoremediation-the use of plants to absorb pollutants from air, water, and soil...
The plants preferentially absorb cesium and strontium from a mixture of metals, he notes. The plants don't metabolize the radionuclides, but the cesium stays in the roots and most of the strontium moves to the shoots. The company disposes of the plants as radioactive waste ....
Maybe someday they'll come up with a method of disposing of radioactive waste, but I'm not holding my breath. It seems to just be piling up and nobody seems to know what to do with it.
Some animals can detect radiation if the levels of radiation are high enough. At low doses it's pretty much odorless, colorless, tasteless. At high enough doses, even humans can detect it, but if a human detects a dose that high, it means they are only a few hours from death. Researchers were able to wake up rats with radiation:
Originally posted by MzMorbid
Actually, thinking more about it; a lot of times animals tend to have an intuition to not eat things that are bad for them so hopefully they might find something amiss and avoid those toxic flowers.
When Hunt and crew had a rat sleeping peacefully, they recorded its heartbeats on an electrocardiograph (300-350 beats per min.). Then they squirted it with a beam of silent, invisible, 250,000-volt X rays. In about 12 sec., the rat woke up, sometimes going into a violent "state of alarm." Its heartbeat would speed up too. But if the radiation continued for long, the rat would go to sleep again, like a human grown accustomed to a steady night-time sound.
Unlike any other insects on the planet, this carnivorous and extremely poisonous (tetradotoxin) species of beetle is highly radioactive due to the series of nuclear weapons testing conducted by the United States in the 1940s and 1950s at Bikini Atoll (located in the central Pacific; one of the 29 atolls and five single islands that form the Republic of the Marshall Islands).