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Types of Bioremediation

Types of Bioremediation

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02/01/2013

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TYPES
OF
B
IO
REM
ED
l
AT1
0
N
Bioremediation can be broken down into four categories:bacterialremediation, mycoremediation,phytoremediation, and compostbioremediation.
BACTERIAL RENEDIATION
Bacterial remediation is the process
of
using bacteria
to
break downmolecular contaminants like hydrocarbons into simpler, safer components. It can be accomplished by culturing (breeding) bacteria inhigh numbers and then introducing them into
a
contaminated area,and/or by turning the affected
soil
into an ideal habitat for bacterialgrowth.Large numbers of beneficial bacteria can be introduced into soilby brewing something called
compost
tea
or
through use
of
a
product called Effective Microorganisms.
THE
ECOLOGY
OF
BACTERIA
Bacteria are simple, single-celled organisms found in abundance inalmost
all
regions of the world. They
are
found in diverse environments, from extremes like the human intestine to bot oceanic sulfurvents.
A
single teaspoon of healthy garden
soil
contains over
a
billion of them. Although often associated with disease, most bacteriaare not harmful to humans. Many are essential
to
human health.Ten percent of human body mass is made of bacterial cells.
R
SUSTAINABLE
CITY
LIVING
 
Bacteria may be aerobic (oxygen using), anaerobic (non-oxygen..
.)
using),
or
somewherebetweell the two on an overlapping continuum. Aerobic bacteria are typically found in healthy soil. Anaerobicbacteria are found in low-oxygen environmentssuch as pond muck,
,~~
oorly maintained compost piles, and intestinal tracts. While someanaerobes are pathogenic (disease-causing) organisms, many,
like
acidophilus and lactobacillus, are essential to effective human di
..
gestion.
,
COMPOST
TEA
Compost tea is a waterbased, oxygen-rich culture containing largepopulations of beneficial aerobic bacteria, nematodes, fungi, andprotozoa, which can be used to bioremediate toxjns.
It
is made byadding an inoculant and a food source to non-chlorinated waterand aerating it. The microorganismspresent in the inoculant rapidlymultiply when put in oxygen-rich water with ample food. This brew
is
applied to contaminated soil, where the microbial populations goto work breaking down certain types of molecular contaminants.The ease and low cost of making compost tea make it a method ofbioremediation
with
the potential for widespread application.
.
THE
COMPONENTS
OF
COMPOST TEA
INOCULANTS
A
cup ofworm castings make an ideal ihoculant for compost tea.The castings can be harvested from
a
worm composting boxorbought from a specialty nursery. Worms have no digestive acidsin their stomachs. Instead, they use bacteria to break down food.Worm excretion is an excellent fertilizer in itself, rich in beneficialbacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes. Another inoculant choiceis aerobic comuost. teeming with microbial life.
It
is important for
BlOREMEDlATlON
I
185
 
the compost to have been well-made,
or
few beneficial critters willbe present.Be noculant
is
put into a nylon stocking that is suspended intothe water. This allows the microbes to enter, but prevents
the
passage of larger objects that could
clog
a
sprayer's screen filter duringapplication.
FOOD
Rapidly reproducing organisms need food
to
fuel their cellular &visions. Microbial foods
are
added
to
compost
tea
to help the processalong. The most commonly used foods
are
molasses, humic acid,and fish hydrolase.
The
molasses, which should be unsulfured, iswidely available
at
grocery stores. Humic acid and fish hydrolase,both fertilizers, need
to
be purchased from garden
stores.
Molasses primarily feeds bacteria, while humic acid and fishhydrolase feed fungi. Bacterial teas enhance annual gardens, whiletrees prefer fungal teas.
A
mixture of these foods will create a finished tea with both bacteria and fungi, which is ideal for remediation of contaminants.
WATER
Chlorine, a powerful microbicide found in municipal water, will
kill
the
microljial life being cultivated in compost
tea.
Whiie it
is
far preferable to use collected rainwater or healthy pond water,municipal water can also be dechlorinatedby allowing
it
to
sit uncovered for
at
least
24
hours. Most of the chlorine
will
volatilizeduring
this
period. Aerating the water speeds up the process.
AERATION
Proper aeration is critical.
As
compost
tea
is being brewed, thepopulation of microorganisms is rapidly expanding. Like humans,aerobic bacteria need oxygen for survival. ?here needs to be enoughoxygen present
in
the water to keep the bacteria alive. If too little
186
I
TOOLBOX
FOR
SUSTAINABLE CITY LIVING

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