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Search for phytoremediating plants in a textile dye polluted area of Dhaka City, Bangladesh.


Phytoremediation refers to the technology where plants can be used to reduce, remove, degrade or immobilize environmental pollutants, which can arise from both domestic as well as industrial wastes. Such pollutants can be heavy metals, toxins, textile dyes, pesticides, or even household food wastes. The best things about phytoremediation are its effectiveness and cost-affordability. Pollutants can accumulate in large bodies of soil or water or both and it can be beyond human means or would necessitate exorbitant costs to clean up such soil and water bodies.

A number of plants have been described that can hyper accumulate and so remove heavy metals from soils. A few examples of such plants are Thlaspi caerulescens for removal of zinc and cadmium, Berkheya coddii for removal of nickel, Asparagus racemosus for removal of selenium, Iberis intermedia for removal of thallium, Ipomoea alpina for removal of copper, Haumanistrum robertii for removal of cobalt and Pteris vitata for removal of arsenic [1]. Cleaning of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated garden soil by phytoremediation has been described [8]. Phytoremediation of crude-oil contaminated soil with the plant Glycine max has been described [10]. Phytoremediation of pesticide-contaminated soil and water has been reported [7].

Effluents from textile industries can contain many contaminating substances, which can potentially pollute the soil and water of the surrounding environment. These substances include dyes, nitrate, oil, grease, aluminum, manganese, iron, zinc and copper [21]. The bioremediation of textile wastes using the fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium has been described [3]. Phytoremediation of textile effluents and mixture of structurally different dyes by the plant Glandularia pulchella has been reported [6]. Phytoremedition of synthetic textile dyes by Eichhornia sp., Salvinia

sp., and Pistia sp. has been shown Anjana and Thanga, [2].

Instead of a blind serach for phytoremediating plants to clean up polluted areas, a better method is to look for plants growing within the contaminated area and analyze their growth and hyperaccumulating capacities. Their very survival and growth in polluted areas suggest that either the plants have grown resistant to the pollutants or are accumulating pollutants with non-negative results on growth and survival. If the latter is the case, then these plants can prove to be good sources for clean-up of toxic areas at affordable costs.

Bangladesh is known for its garment industries. However, these industries are also a source for chemical contamination of surrounding soil and water. Savar is on the outskirt of Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh and has a number of textile manufacturing units. A preliminary survey resulted in the finding that the surrounding areas of a few such units are heavily contaminated with textile dye effluents as manifested by changes in soil and water color. However, a few species of plants were found to be growing amidst the contaminated areas. The objective of the present survey was to collect and identify the plants and survey the available scientific literature for any phytoremediation properties described for those plant species. Any such description can lead to further studies on the hyperaccumulating or phytoremediating properties of these plant species and open up an affordable means to clean up the contaminated areas.


A preliminary survey was carried out among the textile units of Savar and their surrounding areas, and from this survey one such site was found where the surrounding soil and water of about half a mile radius of the unit were contaminated with textile dye effluents coming out of the unit. The water was multi-colored, while the soil had different colorations in different places. The site was chosen and all plant species found to be growing in the contaminated soil and water were collected, photographed, and brought to Bangladesh National Herbarium for complete identification.


A total of 15 species of plants distributed into 10 families were observed to be growing on the contaminated areas. The results are shown in Table 1. The Asteraceae and Euphorbiaceae families contributed three species each and may prove to be the ideal species for cleaning up textile dye contaminated soil and water bodies. A perusal of the scientific literature showed that most of the species have reported phytoremediation properties.

Alternanthera philoxeroides has been reported to clean up lead and mercury from soils [4,12]. Blumea lacera has been reported to hyperaccumulate manganese and zinc from soil of metal-contaminated mining sites [15]. Croton bonplandianum has been reported to be a hyperaccumulator of cadmium and lead [11]. Cyperus rotundus has been shown to have excellent phytoremediation potential for cleaning up diesel-contaminated wetlands [18]. Dolichos lablab has also been reported to accumulate heavy metals from fly ash-contaminated area [16].

Eichhornia crassipes has been shown to phytoremediate zinc, cadmium, copper and chrome from industrial wastewater [20]. A study has shown that Ficus benghalensis leaves can remove 96% of hexavalent chromium from wastewater [13]. Ipomoea aquatica has been reported to phytoremediate metal-polluted soils [5]. Ipomoea fistulosa has been found to be growing in heavy metal-polluted soils [19], and as such deserves further studies for its phytoremediation potential. Lagenaria siceraria can also degrade crude oil when grown on crude oil polluted soil supplemented with wood ash [17]. Phyllanthus reticulatus has some capacity for phytoremediating chromium [14]. Xanthium strumarium has also some capacity for phytoremediating heavy metals [9].

Most of the plant species found in the polluted area of the present study has reported phytoremediating capacities, if not for textile dyes, then for heavy metals. It would be of interest to study the phytoremediating capacities of these plants for textile dyes and other effluents from garment industries. Such studies can pave the way for easy and affordable removal of textile industries' pollutants.


Article history:

Received 2 April 2014

Received in revised form 13 May 2014

Accepted 28 June 2014

Available online 23 July 2014


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[2] Anjana, S., and V.S.G. Thanga, 2011. Phytoremediation of synthetic textile dyes. Asian Journal of Microbiology, Biotechnology & Environmental Sciences, 13: 30-39.

[3] Asamudo, N.U., A.S. Daba, and O.U. Ezeronye, 2005. Bioremediation of textile effluent using Phanerochaete chrysosporium. African Journal of Biotechnology, 4: 1548-1553.

[4] Cho-Ruk, K., J. Kurukote, P. Supprung, and S. Vetayasuporn, 2006. Perennial plants in the phytoremediation of lead-contaminated soils. Biotechnology, 5: 1-4.

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[6] Kabra, A.N., R.V. Khandare, T.R. Waghmode, and S.P. Govindwar, 2012. Phytoremediation of textile effluent and mixture of structurally different dyes by Glandularia pulchella (Sweet) Tronc. Chemosphere, 87: 265-272.

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Syeda Seraj, F.M. Safiul Azam, Farhana Israt Jahan, Dilruba Nasrin, Sharmin Jahan, Shiblur Rahman, Md. Tanvir Morshed, Mohammed Rahmatullah

Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Development Alternative, Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1209, Bangladesh.

Corresponding Author: Professor Dr. Mohammed Rahmatullah, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Development Alternative, House No. 78, Road No. 11A (new), Dhanmondi, Dhaka1205, Bangladesh

Tele: 01715032621 Fax: 02-815739 E-mail:

Table 1: Plants observed to be growing in a textile dye
contaminated site in Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Number               Botanical name

1              Alternanthera philoxeroides
                     (Mart.) Griseb.
2              Blumea lacera (Burm.f.) DC.
3            Spilanthes acmella (L.) Murray
4                Xanthium strumarium L.
5                    Basella alba L.
6               Ipomoea aquatica Forssk.
7           Ipomoea fistulosa Mart. Ex Choisy
8         Lagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standl.
9                  Cyperus rotundus L.
10              Croton bonplandianum Bail
11                Phyllanthus niruri L.
12            Phyllanthus reticulatus Poir.
13                 Dolichos lablab L.
14                Ficus benghalensis L.
15         Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms

Number        Family         Local name

1          Amaranthaceae       Haicha
2           Asteraceae      Kukur shuka
3           Asteraceae        Nak ful
4           Asteraceae         Hagra
5           Basellaceae      Puin shak
6         Convolvulaceae       Kolmi
7         Convolvulaceae     Dhol kolmi
8          Cucurbitaceae      Lau shak
9           Cyperaceae         Ghash
10         Euphorbiaceae     Bon morich
11         Euphorbiaceae     Bhui amla
12         Euphorbiaceae       Chitki
13           Fabaceae        Shim gach
14           Moraceae           Bot
15        Pontederiaceae     Khude pana
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Author:Seraj, Syeda; Azam, F.M. Safiul; Jahan, Farhana Israt; Nasrin, Dilruba; Jahan, Sharmin; Rahman, Shib
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9BANG
Date:Jul 1, 2014
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