In view of the considerable number of analyses necessary in phytoremediation and plant biology studies, it is important that the analytical procedures used for elemental determination in plant tissues should be fast and cheap, with simple sample preparation, and of adequate accuracy and precision. The aim of the present work was focused on the possibilities and drawbacks of a low-cost benchtop energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) instrument to be used as an analytical technique for studying the potential use of sunflowers (<i>Helianthus annuus</i>) for the phytoremediation of an abandoned Pb/Zn mining area. The simplicity and the ability to operate at room temperature and open air conditions provides a flexible setup for the rapid analysis of vegetation material without complicated previous sample pretreatments. With the help of different collimator caps, a modest lateral resolution (from 200 μm to 1 mm) was achieved and it was thought to be small enough to study the accumulation of Pb and Zn and its distribution between parts of the vegetation specimens (roots, stems, and leaves); the limits of detection achieved (0.6 ng for Zn and 3.0 ng for Pb) proved to be suitable for the intended purpose. Therefore, obtained data revealed that EDXRF spectrometry could be a useful tool to better understand the metal uptake, translocation, and tolerance mechanisms in vegetation species related to biomonitoring and phytoremediation studies.
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