Bamboo Cleans Urban Soil

Researchers Find Bamboo 'Cleans' Urban Soil

Three graduate students at the University of Illinois at Chicago may have found a solution to the widespread problem of contaminated urban soil.

Their solution, submitted as an entry in last week's Chicago Sustainable Design Initiative competition, entails growing bamboo on polluted lots, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The students claim their solution to so-called brown fields beats the usual "dig and haul" method that deposits the contaminated soil in a landfill.

Instead, bamboo absorbs pollutants and converts them into nutrients.

Daniel Butt, Kevin Anderson and Abraham Madrigal, all master's degree candidates, found two kinds of bamboo plants, Moso and Madake, that can survive 15-below-zero winters. Seeds and small plants are available from growers in Ohio and on the West Coast. "We can use the seed from our initial crop to increase the supply and achieve economies of scale," Butt said.

Up to 8 feet tall and green, bamboo farms could change the look of Chicago's vacant lots. "Planted in between houses, it would serve as a windbreak, reducing energy costs," Butt said. "It's like planting trees around a home."

Thanks to the United Press International, 1/29/04

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