What is bioremediation?
Bioremediation is the process of using microorganisms to digest harmful contaminants and turn them into non-toxic compounds. Nature will heal itself, but it often takes a great amount of time for things to return to normal. Using microbes helps speed up this process by concentrating the number of helpful microorganisms within a given area.
What are oil-eating microbes?
Commonly known as “bio-bugs,” these microscopic, single-celled organisms digest hydrocarbons and transform them into harmless carbon dioxide and water. Microbes are found naturally everywhere in the world and are collected from sources such as soil and water.
What are the advantages?
Bioremediation is a safe, natural process that produces no harmful by-products. Since it can be done onsite, it is often more cost effective than having soil or water hauled away for burning or other reclamation. It is also safer for workers because no harmful chemicals are used in the process.
Does the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approve of bioremediation?
The EPA recognizes bioremediation as an “innovative technology.” The potential use of bioremediation technologies “is significant, as federal and state governments, private industry and others responsible for environmental clean-up efforts add it to their arsenals of methods for environmental reclamation.”
The EPA is using bioremediation themselves to help clean up a number of superfund sites throughout the country.
Is bioremediation safe?
Bioremediation is very safe because it uses the same microbes that already naturally occur in soil or water. This process simply adds more of these organisms to those already present. No dangerous chemicals are used in the process and harmful contaminants are completely destroyed.
How long does it take?
Although they start to work immediately, bio-bugs, unlike humans, aren’t in a big hurry. They do take some time to work. The time it takes for complete remediation depends on the types and amounts of contamination present, the size and depth of the polluted area, the type of environment and other conditions present. Therefore, results will vary from site to site.
What happens to the microbes after the oil has been consumed?
Like any living creature, if there is no food source, bio-bugs will die out. When this happens, their final by-products are carbon, carbon dioxide and water.
Where can I get more information?
Visit the EPA’s Bioremediation pages here.