What is Bioremediation? | 4 Real-World Examples of Bioremediation

Environmental pollutants continue to be a major global concern. However, thanks to the evolution of bioremediation technology, we are able to diminish some of the damaging effects that these pollutants have had on our environment. The following 3 examples will help you gain a better understanding of bioremediation and its uses. 

Bioremediation is the process of using biological organisms to break down hazardous substances into less toxic or nontoxic substances. According to Cornell University, “Bioremediation provides a technique for cleaning up pollution by enhancing the same biodegradation processes that occur in nature.” Although bioremediation happens naturally over time, scientists have developed ways to speed up the process through bioremediation technology.

3 Examples of Bioremediation

Sure, you probably learned about bioremediation in your high school science class. But how does it apply to real world situations? There are several branches of bioremediation, each with its own specialized methods and qualifications. It is important to note that while these branches share the same title, bioremediation, they are handled differently and their services do not overlap.

  1. Crime scene cleanup. Bioremediation in this sense involves the cleanup of blood and bodily fluids that can pose health risks such as hepatitis, HIV, and MRSA. Rather than using standard cleaning agents like bleach or ammonia, crime scene cleaners use enzyme cleaners to rid the scene of harmful substances. Aftermath is a company that specializes in this area of bioremediation and has almost 20 years of experience in the field. Aftermath does not remediate environmental pollutants.
  2. The cleanup of contaminated soil. Human activity has introduced many toxic substances into the environment’s soil and groundwater. According to an essay published by Montana State University, “During bioremediation, microbes utilize chemical contaminants in the soil as an energy source and, through oxidation-reduction reactions, metabolize the target contaminant into useable energy for microbes.”
  3. Oil spill cleanup. You may remember the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that happened in 2010, where 3.19 million barrels of oil spilled off the Gulf of Mexico. Due to the effectiveness and lower cost of bioremediation, two methods were used to cleanup after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

    • Bioaugmentation. The injection of a small amount of oil-degrading microbes into an affected area.
    • Biostimulation. The addition of nutrients to stimulate the growth of innate oil-degrading microbes to increase the rate of remediation.

There are several companies that handle oil spill and contaminated soil cleanup. To learn more about these companies, this list can help.

Aftermath is committed to providing active leadership and support to the communities we serve through public education. To learn more about crime scene cleanup techniques, browse through some of our blogs.