GCU researchers restoring polluted fields

Glasgow Caledonian University is leading research into the viability of using vegetation to clean up the soil in polluted brownfield sites in Scotland.

Oil pollution is a serious threat to human and environmental health and Scotland is home to significant brownfield areas, containing heavy metals which are challenging and costly to treat. Previous approaches of “dig and dump” are not sustainable.

Glasgow Caledonian’s research is testing whether plants have the power to extract pollutants through phytoremediation and provide an effective route for the clean-up. The project uses simulations to predict root growth in soil containing heavy metals, as well as lab-based experiments to evaluate the phytoremediation potential of different plant covers, vegetation covers. Computer-based spatial tools are also used to predict and communicate, the aggregated spatial effect of using organic waste materials as soil improvers.