Bioremediation is a process in which living organism remove undesirable waste or unwanted things and further helps in restoring the environment.    

Earth has its unique geographical features ranging from glaciers to deserts and every place on the planet has its unique environment including microscopic bacteria and enzymes. These microscopic organisms and enzymes help the process of bioremediation process in order to achieve the goal of cleaning up the environment which is produced through anthropogenic activities.    

Bioremediation old process that dates back centuries. Even the Romans used it to clean wastewater back in 600 BC. As population was growing romans-built aqueducts, which are basically channels, which collects wastewater from the city and further collected. They constructed vast and cultured sewerage system, on which today’s sewerage system are designed. After collection the wastewater it was allowed to settle and further natural biodegradation was allowed through which clean water was obtained. This technology was innovation in that era.    

In Situ vs Ex Situ

These both terms refer to the site where the remediation is going to take place. As like in, In Situ treatment, polluted soil water and any other source remain at the original and remediation process is take place at the same location. This process is less costly as it involves less labor as time saving as it does not require to remain at the site for observing the remediation process. Further it is safe, as there is less contact of labor force with the contaminants and hazardous content.

As in ex situ cleanup, contaminants or contaminated site is excavated and moved to a place where every aspect can be monitored, nutrient levels, the amount of oxygen present, temperature, and other necessary parameters.

Some of the examples of Ex-situ technique is as under:

Land Farming

It is a technique in which contaminated site or the contaminates present in the are placed in the specially lined tray and additional nutrients are added to the site to help bacteria to break down the contaminants into simpler compounds. This technique is used in oil spill areas mostly.

Bio Piling

It is a process in which contaminated or hazardous material is stacked in such a way that it allows to flow air through it, further it is allowed to remediate on its own. Other intermediates like oxygen needed to increase the process of remediation.

Bio Augmentation

Sometimes there is no material or microbes available for degradation of the contaminants, for this purpose we must add some time of microbes of same type of new types which have more potential to degrade the material effectively and in less time or by sometimes altering the environment.

Types Of Bioremediations

Depending upon the type and size of the contamination in the area and the available resources, bioremediation is divided into different types.

Bioremediation Microbes

Microbial bioremediation is the most common type used for removal of contaminants, its fast and provide easy solution for braking complex contaminants into simpler compounds.

Bioremediation Plants

The type of remediation process in which variety of plants are used to clean the contaminated sites is known as phytoremediation. In this technique, plants draw out toxic heavy metals and complex organic pollutants out of the soil, water and also from the air. The complex contaminates after taking up from soil stored into the plant tissues, absorbed there and further converted into harmless substances and send back into the environment.

Bioremediation Fungi

The use of fungi in the removal of contamination is known as myco-remediation. It is typically done in situ and is reserved for very specific circumstances. Fungi can survive in environments with little to no moisture. They can also thrive in areas with very high saturations of toxic substances.

Today new research is being conducted to make the remediation process more effective and give more productivity with less input. However, these techniques are being used all over the world to convert contaminated sites into environment friendly sites.

South Africa: Use of Microorganism to clean mine water

In Cape Town, South Africa scientist are using the power of microbes to treat contaminated wastewater which is being produced from the coal mines. The region is filled with abandoned gold and coal mines each having its own pollution problems in surrounding areas. The chemicals like cynides seeping into the groundwater which was causing harm to vegetation and wildlife of the surrounding area.  

One of the renowned biologist Rob Huddy identified a number of microorganisms present in current wastewater. He inoculated 5 microorganisms and further tested them which were capable of degrading complex pollutants. The next step that he takes is to figure out what needs to be done so that the five key micro-organisms can flourish and do their job optimally. Encouraging their growth is key to achieving the most thorough way of making the mine water safe.

He is hopeful that by successfully treating wastewater produced by mining, can help to not only protect the surrounding environment, but also people and animals from harm. He can also make it possible to provide a valuable source of clean water in a country that is suffering from drought and water shortage.

About the Author: Meraj Ahsan Qureshi is a young motivated, environment health safety official and also social activist, who is determined to educate and change the society through awareness and encourage other to be a part of change.