Question: I often have a combination of oil, water and a detergent on my concrete surface and an adjoining grassy area. Is there an absorbent or other product I can use to clean it all up?
Answer: An effective option might be to remove the oil via bioremediation. This practice uses naturally-occurring microbes and nutrients to digest pollutants, such as oil, solvents, pesticides and other petroleum products.
During bioremediation, microbes break the contaminants down into water and non-toxic gasses, like carbon dioxide and ethane. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), bioremediation is a recognized method for cleaning up routine spills and hazardous areas.
Bioremediation can be used on many surfaces: concrete, asphalt, bodies of water, ground water, soil, sand and on rocks and gravel. The process is natural and often much cheaper than having to rip up the contaminated area and send it for offsite treatment. The microbes can easily get to hard-to-reach areas where tradition absorbents can’t. This is especially helpful if your spill is in a crack, dispersed throughout sand or soil and in pits or tanks, to name a few.
A disadvantage to using bioremediation is that full remediation can take up to several weeks, months or years. Timing is based on the concentration of contaminants, the size and temperature of the area, pH level, among others factors. You also might have to aerate the soil or add additional nutrients to complete the process.
The type of bioremediation product you use will depend on the application. Most bioremediation products are poured, sprayed or applied with a pressure washer or spray bottle to the desired area.
Bioremediation might not be the traditional way to clean up spills, but it’s often more natural and cheaper, especially if you’re dealing with a big area or hard-to-reach area.