The efficiency of white lupine (Lupinus albus) to uptake and accumulate mercury from a soil polluted by mining activities was assessed in a pot experiment with chemically assisted phytoextraction. The mobilizing agents tested were ethylenediaminetetracetic acid (EDTA) and hydrochloric acid (HCl). Two doses of each amendment were used (0.5 and 1.0 g of amendment per kg of soil), and unamended pots were used as a control. Addition of HCl to the soil did not negatively affect plant biomass, while the use of EDTA led to a significant decrease in plant growth when compared to that found for non-treated pots, with plants visually showing symptoms of toxicity. The addition of hydrochloric acid increased root, shoot and total plant Hg uptake of white lupine by 3.7 times, 3.1 times and 3.5 times, respectively, in relation to non-amended plants. The greatest efficiency was obtained for the highest HCl dose. EDTA led to higher concentrations of total plant Hg than that found with the control, but, due to the aforementioned decrease in plant biomass, the Hg phytoextraction yield was not significantly increased. These results were attributed to the capability of both amendments to form stable Hg complexes. The concentration of Hg in the water of the soil pores after the phytoextraction experiment was very low for all treatments, showing that risks derived from metal leaching could be partially avoided by using doses and chemicals suitable to the concentration of metal in the soil and plant performance.
Keywords: Assisted phytoextraction; EDTA; Hydrochloric acid; Mercury; White lupine.