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Bioremediation (Plants and Microbes) Eat Up Contamination

By: Katie Cordrey - Published: • References: bioremediationinc & princeton.edu
Bioremediation uses biological processes to clean up environmental messes. The basic idea is that trained bacteria eat the waste that industries produce. It differs from other methods in that it uses living organisms to do the work that was once done with chemical agents. For example: A carwash in California uses bacteria that eats oils and soaps, allowing it to recycle rather than discharge the water into the septic system; Sugar cane biomass is used to remove petroleum toxins from soil in London, Ontario; and an all-purpose cleaner has been approved by the Florida EPA for the bioremediation of petroleum contaminants. The cleaner breaks the complex chemical structures into more simple ones making them easier to clean up. Other applications allow for removal of pesticides from water, cleaning DDT from soil, removing heavy metals, and purifying water with tree plantings.

Some bioremediation schemes allow plants to withdraw the harmful substances from the earth, air, and water. The substances are broken down into harmless components and/or harvested when the plant material is cut.

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