What is bioremediation?
Bioremediation is a method of using microorganisms to remove the environmental pollutants or prevent pollution. It is a biological treatment process to destroy or reduce the concentration of hazardous wastes from contaminated sites. Bioremediation is similar to other terms such as biotreatment, bioreclamation, and biorestoration etc.
Bioremediation largely depends on enzymatic activities of microbes as they have extraordinary metabolic diversity to catalyze the destruction of pollutants. The process ‘Bioremediation’ was devised by George M Robinson in 1960 for the removal of synthetic chemicals in wastewater.
Bioremediation is a good wastewater treatment strategy for some types of pollution. But it will not work for all. For instance, bioremediation may not provide a feasible study at sites with a high concentration of chemicals that are toxic to most microorganisms. These chemicals include metals such as cadmium or lead and salts such as sodium chloride.
Purposes of bioremediation:
- Removal of organic wastes by microbes for the healthy environment.
- To break down harmful chemicals and pollutants into less harmful chemical compounds
- To clean up oil spills and pollution from soil, groundwater, surface water and air.
Why is it important?
- The process is economical and safe to use.
- It is cost-effective, permanent solutions to clean up soils contaminated with xenobiotic compounds
- It is at least six times cheaper than incineration and three times cheaper than confinement.
- It is an eco-friendly system.
Advantages of bioremediation system:
- It can be done on site
- It causes minimum site disruption
- It eliminates transportation costs and liabilities.
- It also prevents long-term liabilities.
- It uses biological systems, often less expensive.
- This method can be coupled with other treatment techniques.
Disadvantages of bioremediation system:
- Some chemical compounds are not biodegradable.
- It requires an extensive monitoring system
- Each contaminated site has specific treatment requirements
- It creates the possibility of causing unknown toxic subproducts.
- It calls for strong scientific support.