In Japan, researchers at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS) demonstrated that moss can be a green alternative for decontaminating polluted water and soil. The study shows that in particular, the moss Funaria hygrometrica tolerates and absorbs an impressive amount of lead (Pb) from water.
Lead-contaminated water is a serious environmental concern that has recently proved to be disastrous when left untreated. Compounding the problem, the typical way to remove lead or other heavy metals from water requires fossil fuels and a tremendous amount of energy. As an alternative to these typical processes, phytoremediation is a method that uses photosynthesizing organisms to clean up soil or water contamination. The CSRS researchers began their search for a phytoremediation-based removal method by looking at F. hygrometrica, a moss that is known to grow well in sites contaminated with metals like copper, zinc, and lead.