Bio remediation is a waste management technique that involves the use of organisms to remove or neutralize pollutants from a contaminated site. According to the EPA, bio remediation is a “treatment that uses naturally occurring organisms to break down hazardous substances into less toxic or non toxic substances”.
Technologies can be generally classified as in situ or ex situ.
In situ bio-remediation involves treating the contaminated material at the site
Ex situ involves the removal of the contaminated material to be treated elsewhere.
Some examples of bioremediation related technologies are phytoremediation, bioventing, bioleaching, landfarming, bioreactor, composting, bioaugmentation, rhizofiltration, and biostimulation.
Bioremediation may occur on its own (natural attenuation or intrinsic bio-remediation) or may only effectively occur through the addition of fertilizers, oxygen, etc., that help encourage the growth of the pollution-eating microbes within the medium (bio-stimulation). For example, the US Army Corps of Engineers demonstrated that windrowing and aeration of petroleum-contaminated soils enhanced bio-remediation using the technique of landfarming. Depleted soil nitrogen status may encourage biodegradation of some nitrogenous organic chemicals, and soil materials with a high capacity to adsorb pollutants may slow down biodegradation owing to limited bioavailability of the chemicals to microbes.
Recent advancements have also proven successful via the addition of matched microbe strains to the medium to enhance the resident microbe population’s ability to break down contaminants. Microorganisms used to perform the function of bioremediation are known as bioremediators.
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