Heavy metal transport and fate in soil-plant system: study case of industrial cement vicinity, Tunisia


During the last decades, Southeastern Tunisia has suffered from an industrial expansion leading to a serious pollution problem. In this work, heavy metal contamination near Gabes cement plant (Southeastern Tunisia) was assessed in the soils and statistically compared with a control site located 12 km away. Soil samples were collected from 5 to 15 cm below the surface layer. Concentrations of Cr, Mn, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb, and Fe and chemical parameters (conductivity, pH, CaCO3, OM) were measured. The variance analysis exhibited a significant difference (p < 0.05) in metal content between the two sites reflecting the cement plant contamination effect on the surrounding area. Eleven plant species widely distributed in the study area were collected together with the soil in which they were rooted, to assess their phytoextraction potential. Principal component analysis (PCA) was applied to understand the complex connection between soil, plants, and heavy metal contents. Lygeum spartum with respective total bioaccumulation factor (MBF = 1.48 ˃ 1 and Echiochilon fruticosum with a total translocation factor (MTF = 7.06) ˃ 1 were revealed as pertinent candidates for phytoremediation applications.

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We thank the University Complutense de Madrid especially the Laboratory team of analytical chemistry. Special thanks to Pr. Houcine Khatelli the director of Arid Regions Institute, Tunisia, for all the facilities he offered for the realization of this study.

Funding information

This study was supported by the Spanish Commission of Science and Technology (CTQ2014-54801-C2-1-R) and the Community of Madrid FEDER programme S2013/ABI-3028, AVANSECAL-CM.

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Correspondence to Ines Terwayet Bayouli.

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Responsible Editor: Abdullah M. Al-Amri

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Bayouli, I.T., Gómez-Gómez, B., Bayouli, H.T. et al. Heavy metal transport and fate in soil-plant system: study case of industrial cement vicinity, Tunisia. Arab J Geosci 13, 75 (2020).

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  • Topsoils
  • Cement plant pollution
  • Heavy metals
  • Plant species
  • Bioaccumulation factor
  • Phytoremediation