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Research: Aquatic plant life can help clean up radioactive pollution

Jan. 9, 2014 at 2:02 PM   |   Comments

TOKYO, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Seventeen types of aquatic plant life can help remove radioactive materials from the atmosphere, Japanese scientists reported.

The Japanese plant scientists said their findings will add to existing bio-remedial options that could help to reduce radioactive pollution in Fukushima area, where an earthquake in 2011 spawned a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Their two years of research was published Thursday in a special edition of Springer's Journal of Plant Research.

The research group, led by Yoshihiro Shiraiwa of the University of Tsukuba, identified 17 microalgae, aquatic plants and algae could efficiently remove radioactive cesium, iodine and strontium from the environment.

Because the strains identified are easy to harvest and dry, they could potentially be used to recover radioactive cesium from a huge volume of polluted water if the cesium is dissolved in the water, the researchers said.

"Biological concentration of radio-nuclides is an essential technology for bio-remediation of radio-polluted soils and water," Shiraiwa said. "Therefore our results provide an important strategy for decreasing [radioactive pollution] in the Fukushima area."

The researchers said more studies were needed on the algal strains before their findings could be implemented.

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