Healthy environments for healthy people: Bioremediation today and tomorrow
Increases in environmental contamination lead to a progressive deterioration of environmental quality. This condition challenges our global society to find effective measures of remediation to reverse the negative conditions that severely threaten human and environmental health. We discuss the progress being made toward this goal through application of bioremediation techniques. Bioremediation generally utilizes microbes (bacteria, fungi, yeast, and algae), although higher plants are used in some applications. New bioremediation approaches are emerging based on advances in molecular biology and process engineering. Bioremediation continues to be the favored approach for processing biological wastes and avoiding microbial pathogenesis. Bioremediation may also play an increasing role in concentrating metals and radioactive materials to avoid toxicity or to recover metals for reuse. Microbes can biodegrade organic chemicals, purposeful enhancement of this natural process can aid in pollutant degradation and waste-site cleanup operations. Recently developed rapid-screening assays can identify organisms capable of degrading specific wastes and new gene-probe methods can ascertain their abundance at specific sites. New tools and techniques for use of bioremediation in situ, in biofilters, and in bioreactors are contributing to the rapid growth of this field. Bioremediation has already proven itself to be a cost-effective and beneficial addition to chemical and physical methods of managing wastes and environmental pollutants. We anticipate that it will play an increasingly important role as a result of new and emerging techniques and processes.
Bonaventura, C; Johnson, FM
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