Advantages and limitations of bioremediation
Advantages of bioremediation
The most significant benefits of using bioremediation are its contribution to the environment because it is a natural process and accepted by society as the best process for decontaminating soil and water. After contaminant treatment and degradation, no offensive products such as carbon dioxide, wastewater, and cell biomass are released and thus making it a sustainable technology. Some of its benefits are pointed out below (Sharma and Reddy 2004, Vivaldi 2001).
- • It is possible to completely breakdown toxic organic contaminants into other non-toxic chemicals.
- • Equipment demands are minimum compared to other remediation technologies.
- • It can be executed as an in situ or ex situ method depending on conditions.
- • It is a cost-effective technology per unit volume of soil or groundwater compared to other remediation methods.
- • Low-technology equipment is needed, i.e., readily available equipment, e.g., pumps, welldrilling equipment, etc.
- • Bioremediation is perceived arbitrarily by society because it is a natural process.
- • A complete breakdown of pollutants into non-toxic compounds is possible because the process does not involve transferring contaminants to another environmental medium.
Limitations of bioremediation
There are some limitations and challenges associated with bioremediation. It is limited to compounds that are biodegradable and susceptible to rapid and complete degradation. Sometimes, by-products of biodegradation may be more persistent or toxic than the parent compound. Some of its limitations and challenges are pointed out below (Sharma and Reddy 2004, Vivaldi 2001).
- • Most significant limitations have been countered, and if the bioremediation process is not controlled, there is a possibility that organic contaminants may not be broken down completely, resulting in more toxic by-products that may be more mobile than initial contamination.
- • The process is sensitive to toxicity level and prevailing conditions on the ground, and the terms such as temperature, pH, must be favorable to microbial activity.
- • Area monitoring to track the biodegr adation rate of contaminants is advised.
- • If an ex-situ technique is practiced, managing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may be challenging.
- • Treatment time is typically higher than that of other remediation methods.
- • The range of contaminants that can be effectively treated is limited to biodegradable compounds.
- • Left residual levels can be too high (not meeting regulative specifications), persistent, and toxic.
- • Performance evaluations are challenging because a defined level of a clean site is not there, and therefore, performance criteria regulations are uncertain.
Conclusion and future perspectives
The introduction of toxic contaminants into the environment causes adverse effects on humans, wildlife, and natural habitats. In this context, decontamination and restoration of polluted sites have become a priority in any part of the world. Modem society is also concerned about the wide range of contaminants and pollutants. Scientists are working continuously to provide an effective solution for increased pollution. They are trying to develop relevant site-specific strategies and cost-effective technologies through the identification and characterization of novel plant species, microbial strains, and then enzymatic activities, and nanoparticle-based materials found in nature. Bioremediation has enough capability and immense potential to overcome a wide range of contaminants through its biodegradation.
Therefore, it is necessary to study the complex behavior and identify the metabolites and their degradation pathways to find a more suitable solution for reducing environmental pollution, which is a significant thrust area. On the other hand, a systems biology approach involving omics tools such as genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, phenomics, lipidomics, and metabolomics could play an essential role in the study of this complex behavior of microbes (Singh and Sliukla 2015). Recently, nauoparticle-based materials have been attracting considerable interest for their unique properties and the immense application potential in diverse areas. These nanoparticles have the potential to bind with the xenobiotic compounds and degrade them completely or transform in less harmful derivatives, which further help in efficient and eco-friendly environment cleaning.