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Pumpkins Clean Up

You probably know that pumpkins are good for you because they are a good source of vitamin A and fiber. But did you know that they can be good for the environment, too?

New research, to be published later this year in Environmental Science and Technology, shows that pumpkins can clean up soil contamination with DDT and other pollutants.

Pollutants that don’t dissolve in water, such as DDT, PCBs and dioxins, are difficult to remove and the difficulty increases with time. Usually, to clean up contaminated areas, the soil is removed and either dumped in a landfill or incinerated.

Pumpkins offer an alternative through phyto-remediation – the use of plants to clean up contaminated soil. Basically, pumpkins could be planted in contaminated soil and destroyed after they’ve been harvested.

“Our research has shown that members of the Curcubita pepo species, including pumpkins, are particularly effective in this regard,” says Ken Reimer, PhD, a chemist at the Royal Military College of Canada and corresponding author of the paper.

The research compared rye grass, tall fescue, alfalfa, zucchini and pumpkin. Pumpkins took up the most DDET with zucchini, another C. pepo species, following at second. The researchers believe this to be the case because of the large mass and volume found in the species.

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