Accumulation of lead and zinc by plants colonizing a metal mining area in Central Iran

  • S. M. Ghaderian
  • G. R. Hemmat
  • R. D. Reeves
  • A. J. M. Baker


The Irankouh area, located in Central Iran, is a vast mountainous region with mineralized soils and several active zinc and lead mining and smelting sites. In this study plants and soils from 5 different sites in this area were collected and analyzed for Zn and Pb. Analysis of soils from different sites showed the expected high concentrations of Zn and Pb - up to 23,000 and 18,000 μg g-1 for total, 30 and 20 μg g-1 for exchangeable, 1 and 0.6 μg g-1 for water-soluble fractions, respectively. Plants collected from these sites total 67 species from 66 genera and 29 families. Most of these are annual herbs found also on non-metalliferous soils in this region. The concentrations of Zn and Pb in the leaf dry matter of plants were variable, with up to 4800 μg g-1 for Zn and 740 μg g-1 Pb in Matthiola chenopodiifolia and Pinus elderica, respectively. A significant positive correlation was detected between the concentrations of Zn and Pb in plant dry matter and those in soils. The concentrations of Zn and Pb in the leaves of most species collected were significantly higher than for other plants from non-metalliferous soils. Some accumulator plants found in this area could have potential for soil clean-up by phytoextraction.