Bioremediation is defined as the use of biological processes to degrade, break down, transform, and/or essentially remove contaminants or impairments of quality from soil and water. Bioremediation is a natural process which relies on bacteria, fungi, and plants to alter contaminants as these organisms carry out their normal life functions. Metabolic processes of these organisms are capable of using chemical contaminants as an energy source, rendering the contaminants harmless or at least making them less toxic. This paper summarizes the general processes of bioremediation within the soil environment, focusing on biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons. The effect of soil conditions on rate of biodegradation of hydrocarbons is addressed. Further, limitations and potential of both ex situ and in situ bioremediation as viable alternatives to conventional remediation are explained and addressed.
Many substances known to have toxic properties have been introduced into the environment through human activity. These substances range in degree of toxicity and danger to human health. Many of these substances either immediately or ultimately come in contact with and are sequestered by soil. The emerging science and technology of bioremediation offers a method to detoxify contaminants. Bioremediation has been demonstrated and is being used as an effective means of mitigating:
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