Bioremediation is a clean-up technology that uses naturally occurring microorganisms to degrade hazardous substances in soil, water and air into less toxic or nontoxic compounds.
Bioremediation is an economical and safe method for cleaning up oil spills and bioremediating soils contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons and dangerous organic compounds.
Several aspects of bioremediation make it an appealing choice. Bioremediation has several advantages over other approaches, and is often used in combination with other solutions. Some of the advantages of bioremediation are briefly discussed here:
- Cost effective
The costs of bioremediation as compared to other remedial alternatives are comparably much lower. For instance, bioremediation techniques are typically more economical than traditional methods. It is estimated that bioremediation costs 1/3 to ½ that of incineration, and for complex mixtures of waste, bioremediation typically offers savings of 60-90% over landfill-disposal costs.
Conventional treatments usually involve high end engineering methods and structures that require more revenue. Another example of conventional method is chemical treatment which is equally costly. Also, companies need to adhere to regulatory acts posed by government when treating wastes and in most cases, the cost is higher when conventional methods are employed. Thus, many companies are opting for bioremediation technology.
- Natural treatment and environmentally safe process
Bioremediation is a natural process and is therefore accepted as a safe process. Microbes are able to degrade contaminants to harmless substances that are not detrimental to the environmental such as carbon dioxide, water and cell biomass.
- Holistic approach
Bioremediation transforms pollutants instead of simply moving them from one media to another. For example, in the past some polluted soils were buried in landfills in which case the pollutant was not destroyed but only transferred and the problem was only delayed. This eliminates the chance of future liability associated with treatment and disposal of contaminated material.
- Exposure risks are at minimal
Conventional methods often include personnel to come in close contact with contaminants while executing clean up procedures like excavation. Apart from that, these methods also include the transfer of contaminants to a secondary site which would run the risk of a more widespread exposure should accidents happen. Bioremediation keeps these risks at a minimal as the process of degradation is left for it to take its natural turn.