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Home arrow Environment arrow Biosafety and the environmental uses of micro-organisms : conference proceedings.
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Examples of use of released micro-organisms in bioremediation

Over the last decade, a number of companies have been established to develop and commercialise biodegradation technologies. For example, one bioremediation company, Envirogen (New Jersey), has developed recombinant PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) degrading micro-organisms with improved stability and survivability in mixed populations of soil organisms. The same company has also developed a naturally occurring bacterium that degrades trichloroethylene (TCE) in the presence of toluene, a toxic organic solvent killing many other micro-organisms. However, the use of microbes for bioremediation is not limited to detoxification of organic compounds. In many cases, selected microbes can also reduce the toxic cations of heavy metals (such as selenium) to the much less toxic and much less soluble elemental form. Other commercially available products include BioWorld Augmentation, which represents “a group of specific micro-organisms selected for each type of contaminant”. Recently RemActiv™ has been introduced into the market; this is a liquid additive that contains selected micro-organisms and a specially formulated nutrient mix.

Feedback on the use of these organisms as a bioaugmentation treatment is mixed. This is not unexpected as the environmental conditions under which these additives operate effectively are limited and as every commercial bioremediation represents a unique set of pollutants and environmental conditions, it is not surprising that under some conditions, treatment is effective while under other conditions, treatment can be less effective or even ineffective. However, throughout the deployment of augmented organisms in the environment for remediation of a range of contaminants, to the best of the author’s knowledge, there have been no reports of any detrimental environmental effects caused by the released micro-organism. This is an important observation, confirming that bioremediation represents a sustainable and environmentally safe technology, provided that due testing and analysis in both the laboratory and the field have been completed prior to full-scale treatment.

 
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