Phytocorps is an educational project about Phytoremediation with application and impact in Rhode Island, USA, at the site of a chemical accident.

In October 2004, youth found large quantities of mercury in an abandoned mercury reclamation area bordering the river’s edge in Pawtucket, Rhode island, which resulted in a community wide evacuation. Investigating the demographics of the area, which is neighbored by two high schools, one middle school and two elementary schools, it was decided to design a recovery-programme which gives youth a sense of responsibility and ownership over the site.

A phytoremediation programme for the whole area is integrated into the schools’ curriculum. Student groups from different schools from grade seven to twelve are, depending on the grade, engaged with different tasks that they follow with the help of professionals.

The first stage consists of land preparation, analysis of the soil and eventually the adding of chelates, substances that enhance phytoextraction. Next, plants are either first cultivated and then transferred to the site, or are directly planted on site and further maintained throughout their seasonal cycle. Finally, after a period of growth, the plants have to be removed, disposed of properly e.g., by incineration, and the soil has to be analyzed for changes in the content of substances.

Each student from grade seven to ten is given the responsibility of a certain plant which he maintains and documents in a booklet, while students from grade eleven and twelve are engaged with soil analyzing.
Great care is given to following safety guidelines, e.g., by the garments students have to wear.

The project has been designed at the Rhode Island School of Design, departments of Landscape Architecture and Industrial Design. Contact:

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