The uptake of heavy metals by aquatic macrophytes and the development of microsampling analytical techniques
This thesis reviews literature relating both to the treatment of metal rich wastewaters by the use of constructed wetlands and the use of slurry analytical procedures for the determination of heavy metals in environmental micro-samples. A survey of metal contaminated wetland sites showed that aquatic plants maintain low levels of metals in aerial parts despite some very elevated sediment metal concentrations and extreme acidity. A series of greenhouse trials investigated the uptake of metals into aerial sections of Typha, Phragmites and Equisetum in long term hydroponic experiments. Phragmites was shown to accumulate zinc to a higher level than Typha. The toxicity of zinc supplied in the nutrient solution at 5 mg.dm-3 over long periods was found to limit the viability of such non-sediment based systems. A reliable routine analytical procedure was developed along with a program of quality control for the study of metal uptake into aquatic plants. A micro sampling technique, eminently suited for the analysis of small plant sections was developed. This technique uses ozone to ash the plant samples at a low temperature and following suspension in a liquid medium provides a sample ready for slurry determinations by a variety of analytical instrumentation. It is proposed that this method may also be suitable for the determination of metals in individual invertebrates and other zoological micro-samples as well as potential applications in the medical field.