Heavy metals and arsenic uptake by wild vegetation in the Guadiamar river area after the toxic spill of the Aznalcóllar mine

J Biotechnol. 2002 Sep 11;98(1):125-37. doi: 10.1016/s0168-1656(02)00091-3.


On 25 April 1998, approximately 4.5 hm(3) of pyritic sludge, containing 5000 mg of As kg(-1) among other pollutants, was spilled into the Agrio and Guadiamar rivers and the surrounding agricultural areas (Aznalcóllar, Seville, Southern Spain). Many trace metals such as Pb, Cu, Zn, Cd, Tl, Sb and As reached the Doñana National Park, the largest wetland area in Europe, affecting soils, different plant and animal species. In order to recuperate the affected lands by employing plants capable of accumulating high levels of contaminants in shoots, periodical field surveys have been made to identify the metal-tolerant species that are spontaneously growing in the polluted soils, and are able to uptake one or various of the contaminants. Among the 99 different plant species studied, Anchusa azurea, Beta vulgaris, Chamaemelum fuscatum, Convolvulus arvensis, Cynodon dactylon, Diplotaxis virgata, Erodium aethiopicum, Lavatera cretica, Malva nicaeensis, Silybum marianum and, above all, Amaranthus blitoides highlight as the most promising to be used in the remediation of the affected area.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational
  • Arsenic / analysis*
  • Arsenic / metabolism
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis*
  • Metals, Heavy / metabolism
  • Mining
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Soil Pollutants / metabolism
  • Spain
  • Species Specificity
  • Water Pollution, Chemical


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Arsenic