Rhizofiltration is the absorption into, or the adsorption or precipitation onto, plant roots of contaminants present in the soil water. The principal difference between this and the previous approach is that rhizofiltration is typically used to deal with contamination in the groundwater, rather than within the soil itself, though the distinction is not always an easy one to draw. The plants destined to be used in this way are normally brought on hydroponically and gradually acclimatised to the specific character of the water which requires to be treated. Once this process has been completed, they are planted on the site, where they begin taking up the solution of pollutants. Harvesting takes place once the plants have become saturated with contaminants and, as with the phytoextraction, the collected biomass requires some form of final treatment. The system is less widely appreciated than the previous technology, but it does have some very important potential applications. Sunflowers were reported as being successfully used in a test at Chernobyl in the Ukraine, to remove radioactive uranium contamination from water in the wake of the nuclear power station accident.
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