Soil Contamination and Bioremediation

As chemicals and toxins have been increasingly more popular with time, the subject of soil contamination has become more and more important. Today, humans have to be prepared and organized in a case if a major toxic or chemical spill were to occur. Thus, research in bioremediation is becoming more and more common. Using natural bacteria and/or other organisms to “eat away” at the toxic material, is a natural and very useful method. Just like the Exxon oil spill scientists used bacteria that ate away at the carbon in the oil, to reduce the overall affect to the environment. Research in this subject could save many species and and prevent keystone habitats from anthropogenic destruction. We all learned in class that soil can absorb, filter, and buffer all kinds of liquids. Whether it be rain or chemicals from a non-point pollution source, soil has the ability to retain and/or filter chemicals from getting into waterways or even groundwater sources.

Contamination of soil by crude oil occurs around the world because of equipment failure, natural disasters, deliberate acts, and human error. However, conventional approaches to clean-up come with additional environmental costs. Detergents, for instance, become pollutants themselves and can persist in the environment long after any remediation exercise is complete. A more environmentally friendly approach is to bioremediation, which uses natural or engineered microbes that can metabolize the organic components of crude oil. Stimulating such microbial degradation in contaminated soil often involves the use of expensive fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus, and again may come with an additional environmental price tag despite the bio label. Many studies have been researched and preformed, when looking around on the internet I found an article on Science Daily actually says that Chicken Manure, yes CHICKEN MANURE, has the ability to biodegrade crude oil in contaminated soil. Research in China, “the team added chicken manure to soil contaminated with 10 percent volume to weight of crude to soil. They found that the almost 75% of the oil was broken down in soil with the fowl additive after about two weeks. Whereas additive-free soil was naturally remediated to just over 50%.”

There are also other uses of bioremediaton, like, the use of genetic engineering to create organisms specifically designed for bioremediation has great potential. The bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans (the most radioresistant organism known) has been modified to consume and digest toluene and ionic mercury from highly radioactive nuclear waste. There are some plants that naturally buffer the chemicals and the roots actually clean the contaminate. Mycoremediation is the use of fungi to return a contaminated environment to a less contaminated one. Overall there are many different uses and methods of bioremediation that are all very useful and environmentally friendly. Research in this subject is important for the benefit of comfortable living for multiple species, including ourselves.

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One Response to Soil Contamination and Bioremediation

  1. Christine C. says:

    This is very informative, thank you for writing it, you have talent information. I am somewhat involved in bioremediation via microbes. There is a mystery that i am trying to solve – I am learning there is a resistance to using this method – contractors and remediation companies are continuing to use the conventional method of clean up – moving the contaminated soil from one place to another. I am searching for an answer as to why.

    Any input you have would be helpful.


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