2005 CPEO Military List Archive

From: lsiegel@cpeo.org
Date: 4 Oct 2005 18:55:55 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Plants as Bioaccumulators of Perchlorate

Geological Society of America
2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16?19, 2005)
Abstract: Paper No. 141-4
Presentation Time: 8:50 AM-9:10 AM

HARVEY, Gregory J., Environmental Safety and Health Division, United
States Air Force, 1801 10th St Bldg 8 Suite 200, Area B,
Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433, gregory.harvey@wpafb.af.mil, ORRIS,
Greta J., USGS, 520 N Park Ave, Tucson, AZ 85719, JACKSON, Andrew,
Department of Civil Engineering, Lubbock, TX 79409, and ANDRASKI, Brian,
USGS Nevada District, Carson City, NV 89706

Perchlorate can have both natural and anthropogenic origins. Our
knowledge of the extent and origin of perchlorate in the environment is
incomplete. Early studies conducted for the United States Air Force
(USAF) by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and
the University of Georgia-Athens showed that a number of different
plants under a variety of lab and field conditions can accumulate
perchlorate. To test the efficacy of plants as bioindicators of
perchlorate, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), USAF, and Texas
Tech University obtained leaves and other biomass in remote locations in
the southwestern United States and western North Atlantic. Water
extraction of this biomass was performed and analyses of the extracts
were conducted by IC-MS. Results to date have shown that perchlorate can
be detected in several different marine plants from the western North
Atlantic, in one specimen from off the coast of Chile, and in dominant
xerophytes from the southwestern US. Testing of commercially available
species specific kelp meal reveal that Chondrus crispus, Ascophyllum
nodosoum, Laminria sp. around New Brunswick and Nova Scotia typically
contain 20-80 ppb and Gigartina from the Pacific Ocean off Chile
contained less than 10 ppb perchlorate on a dry weight basis. Dominant
desert scrub, non-succulent xerophytes from remote locations in the four
major deserts of the southwestern US (Chihuahuan, Great Basin, Mojave,
and Sonoran) reveal that perchlorate can be found in concentrations
ranging from less than 10 parts per billion (ppb) to almost 600 ppb.
Limited testing of succulents of the genus Opuntia revealed levels of
perchlorate greater than 1 part per million (ppm). Results from
long-lived xerophytes such as Larrea tridentate (creosote bush) suggest
that xerophytes may be sinks for atmospherically-derived perchlorate.
Additional studies are in progress to investigate this possibility.

For the original abstract and links, go to


One source suggests that the high concentrations of perchlorate in
certain cactus plants may help explain the relatively high incidence of
perchlorate disease among Mexicans.


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918
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