Bioremediation and Its Products

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How can we clean up the environment? Bioremediation can do that through the use of living organisms.

The U.S. makes three hundred million metric tons of biohazardous waste annually from households and industry: the chemical industry alone generates approximately five million tons of waste and over half of these are let loose into the environment.

Lots of organic contaminants are carcinogenic, break down very slowly, and have a tendency to accumulate in the environment posing noteworthy health risks to human and other living organisms. Bioremediation involves the utilization of plants (phytoremediation) and microorganisms to relieve contaminated soil and water in an environmentally friendly manner. This article will focus on the use of microorganisms to deal with contaminated locations.

Microorganisms are employed in a variety of methods to decontaminate polluted places and stimulate the environment. Microbial remediation includes natural attenuation, biostimulation and/or bioaugmentation. All three processes rely on the ability of microorganisms to break down the complex molecules of chemicals in biohazardous waste and employ these simpler molecules to construct cell parts; thereby, retaining their unique metabolic processes.

Natural attenuation (intrinsic or natural bioremediation) is the process that occurs naturally in contaminated soil or water, as petroleum, gas and oil are weakened by oil-degrading microorganisms indigenous to the soils at contamination areas. An example is the natural process that occurs at old gas stations with leaky underground tanks: oil-degrading microorganisms within the soil will eventually break down the contaminants. However, researchers are investigating ways to broaden the scope of contaminants that microorganisms would be able to digest, kind of like teaching bacteria to eat new things, and even perhaps speed up the process.

Biostimulation involves the addition of nutrients and oxygen to contaminated water or soil to promote bacterial growth and activity. Biostimulation was used following the grounding of the Exxon Valdez when fertilizer applications were applied to the contamination site to stimulate growth of indigenous oil-degrading microorganisms.

Natural attenuation and biostimulation both rely on the natural presence of microorganisms that can degrade the particular contaminant. As an example, following the grounding of the Exxon Valdez, the expansion of naturally occurring oil-degrading bacteria was promoted so microbial degradation of the oil might occur more rapidly.

Whereas natural attenuation and biostimulation rely on indigenous microorganisms, bioaugmentation is employed at sites where chemical-specific degrading microorganisms aren't found. Bioaugmentation involves adding specialized microorganisms to contaminated soil or water at the contamination site or in a treatment facility (e.g. municipal wastewater treatment facility). Indigenous microorganisms, with a “taste” for that kind of contaminant, are isolated from other contamination sites of the same “flavour”, and added to the contaminated soil or water.

Catalinabiosolutions provides bioremediation services and bioremediation products including: initial lab analyses. To know more about oil spills clean up methods and oil spill remediation visit our website.

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