Common garden plants are to be used to help clean up Brownfield sites previously used in heavy industry, mining and landfill sites according to scientists.
Plants such as ferns, alyssum and a type of mustard plant called sinapi will be used to soak of trace metals from derelict land previously occupied by factories.
The process, known as phytoremediation has been developed by a team of researchers from several top universities. The plan is to draw any contaminated material out of the land, and at harvest, remove the plants and process in a bio-refinery.
A bacteria has been designed that will be added to the waste to convert the toxic metal ions into metallic nanoparticles. These tiny particles could then be used to aid cancer research, and catalytic converters for cars.
Dr Louise Horsfall, of the University of Edinburgh said;
“Land is a finite resource. As the world’s population grows, along with the associated demand for food and shelter, we believe that it is worth decontaminating land to unlock vast areas for better food security and housing.”