Arbor Day Foundation and Intrinsyx Environmental Team Up to Tackle Contamination


LINCOLN, Nebraska (June 14, 2021) – The Arbor Day Foundation and Intrinsyx Environmental are partnering to launch a remediation program to use trees and plants to clean up contaminated land, which is a process known as phytoremediation.  

"We have always seen trees as a solution to the most pressing issues we face, and we're excited to explore trees as a solution for industrial-scale contamination that can happen in our communities," said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. "By partnering with Intrinsyx Environmental for this program, we aim to help cities and towns install natural tree-based solutions to their biggest problems." 

Industrial contamination is a long-standing problem that continues to plague communities across the United States. The Arbor Day Foundation surveyed 3,600 municipal partners from its Tree City USA program to learn more about how contamination affects their communities. It found that cost and budget constraints were among the chief reasons why communities had a hard time cleaning up contaminated lands. To help find a solution for this issue, the Arbor Day Foundation began working with regulators, academics, communities, and remediation practitioners in the summer of 2020 to examine phytoremediation as a potential solution.  

“Plants can take up and degrade many pollutants; however, plants generally degrade them too slowly or the pollutants are too toxic so the plants die before they can complete the job.  But harnessing natural plant-microbe partnerships can overcome these challenges,” said Dr. Sharon Doty at University of Washington. “Endophyte-assisted phytoremediation offers an inexpensive, natural, on-site technology for removing harmful pollutants.” 

In the past, when agencies like the EPA examined phytoremediation as an encouraging potential solution, they found that trees could not survive and take root in highly contaminated soils and groundwater. However, new research shows an advancement in microbiology that holds favorable results which boost a tree's resilience to toxic soils and groundwater, further increasing the tree's ability to grow and degrade contamination safely. Additionally, this microbiological approach to phytoremediation uses microbes that degrade chlorinated solvents and petroleum hydrocarbons inside the trees. More than 30 site locations have benefitted from this new research starting in 2014, and highlighted in the New York Times in April of 2020. In addition, according to the same study, public and private property owners can benefit from a cost reduction of 50-90% of the remediation costs they would otherwise pay to extract contaminants from their land and groundwater, including in deep aquifers. 

The Arbor Day Foundation views the recent advancements in efficacy and the cost savings aspect of phytoremediation as a significant opportunity for cities to rid their communities of harmful contamination. The phytoremediation program will offer free assessments to eligible Tree City USA communities with contaminated areas. Through this assessment, municipal employees in community development and public works can determine whether their city or town will be a good fit for cleaning their contaminated areas through phytoremediation. If deemed suitable, Arbor Day Foundation will reach out to Intrinsyx Environmental to perform site assessment, design, and installation of phytoremediation systems. Polluted areas can be restored on private or public land. To find out more information or apply, visit:  


About the Arbor Day Foundation 

Founded in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with more than one million members, supporters and valued partners. Since 1972, more than 400 million Arbor Day Foundation trees have been planted in neighborhoods, communities, cities and forests throughout the world. Our vision is to help others understand and use trees as a solution to many of the global issues we face today, including air quality, water quality, climate change, deforestation, poverty and hunger. As one of the world's largest operating conservation foundations, the Arbor Day Foundation, through its members, partners and programs, educates and engages stakeholders and communities across the globe to involve themselves in its mission of planting, nurturing and celebrating trees. More information is available at 

About Intrinsyx Environmental 

Intrinsyx Environmental offers the most highly adapted, cutting-edge systems for phytoremediation of contaminated soil, groundwater and surface water in the industry. Our biotechnology and success with highly toxic sites were highlighted by the EPA and have recently received acclaim in The New York Times, Scientific American, and Sustain Magazine. Our naturally occurring endophytic microbes provide our unique cultivars of trees, plants and grasses with enhanced degradation of and tolerance to pollutants and environmental stresses. Our projects encompass treating groundwater and soil on Superfunds, retired military sites, brownfields, mining sites, bio-solids, industrial and municipal effluents, and surface water runoff from agriculture, mining, and land development. State and Federal Regulators recognize our methods and approve Intrinsyx’ endophyte-assisted phytoremediation as a stand-alone treatment. Successful phytoremediation not only saves money, but also sequesters carbon, displaces fossil fuel consumption, and provides an aesthetically pleasing landscape that clearly demonstrates remediation progress and meets site remedial targets.