After the horrific events of Hurricane Katrina, the people of New Orleans are faced with the task of cleaning up the entire city. This includes soil remediation to clean up contaminated soil and remove harmful chemicals carried by floods. 

As with any soil remediation process, the first step is soil sampling and analysis to create a contaminant profile. The results showed some areas were affected by the flood-borne chemicals, but the soil also showed older traces of lead contamination.

The reality of lead soil contamination

Lead is a heavy metal that cannot be digested or broken down by plants, animals or humans. High levels of exposure have been shown to harm younger children, including behavioral problems, attention deficit disorder, and decreased IQ.

Phytoremediation for natural soil remediation

The use of plants and plant material to clean soil is called phytoremediation. This is certainly the preferred approach for environmentally conscious landowners. It is also quite surprising to realize how many different types of pollutants can be safely removed from your soil without disturbing the soil or using harsh chemicals.

Led by Common Ground volunteers, this soil improvement effort uses sunflowers to remove lead from their soil. This popular plant adds color to the environment while its roots absorb harmful lead from the soil.