In order to take full accountability over the sustaining our ecosystems and plants, we must examine the various sources of pollution into our environment.
Mining is a significant source of heavy metal pollution into the environment and impacts plants negatively.
Research has shown that soil contaminated with heavy metal toxins such as copper, lead, chromium, zinc, and cadmium changes the the physiology and anatomy of plants.
Levels of heavy metal contamination in the dump sites of mines are known to be in hundreds per mg/kg².
Alfalfa plants showed reduced root and shoot length after two weeks of exposure to heavy metals as low as 40 ppm (or mg/kg²).
Similarly in sheep grass, soils contaminated with heavy metals at 0% (control), 7.5%, and 15% showed declines in root and shoot lengths.
Chlorophyll levels also drop significantly as contamination and exposure to heavy metals increase:
This leads to a lower photosynthetic rate – which means less oxygen for us to breathe!!
Mining, although essential for industrialization and the manufacture of the limitless product consumption, we need to be weary of it’s impact on plants and the ecosystem!
Gomes, M.P.; Teresa Marques, C.; Nogueira, M.; Castro, E.M.; Soares, A.M. 2011. Ecophysiological and anatomical changes due to uptake and accumulation of heavy metal in Brachiaria decumbens. Sci. agric. 68: 566-573.
Aydinalp, C.; Marinova, S. 2009. The effects of heavy metals on seed germination and plant growth on alfalfa plant (Medicago sativa). Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., 15: 347-350.