Phytotechnologies - Preventing Exposures, Improving Public Health

Heather F. Henry, Joel G. Burken, Raina M. Maier, Lee A. Newman, Steven Rock, Jerald L. Schnoor, William A. Suk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Phytotechnologies have potential to reduce the amount or toxicity of deleterious chemicals and agents, and thereby, can reduce human exposures to hazardous substances. As such, phytotechnologies are tools for primary prevention in public health. Recent research demonstrates phytotechnologies can be uniquely tailored for effective exposure prevention in a variety of applications. In addition to exposure prevention, plants can be used as sensors to identify environmental contamination and potential exposures. In this paper, we have presented applications and research developments in a framework to illustrate how phytotechnologies can meet basic public health needs for access to clean water, air, and food. Because communities can often integrate plant-based technologies at minimal cost and with low infrastructure needs, the use of these technologies can be applied broadly to minimize potential contaminant exposure and improve environmental quality. These natural treatment systems also provide valuable ecosystem services to communities and society. In the future, integrating and coordinating phytotechnology activities with public health research will allow technology development focused on prevention of environmental exposures to toxic compounds. Hence, phytotechnologies may provide sustainable solutions to environmental exposure challenges, improving public health and potentially reducing the burden of disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)889-899
Number of pages11
JournalInternational journal of phytoremediation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • airborne pollution
  • developing countries
  • exposure prevention
  • food safety
  • phytotechnologies
  • primary prevention
  • public health
  • sustainability
  • water contamination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Plant Science


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