Considerations when evaluating biological approach to hazardous material detoxification (bioremediation)
Most engineers know that certain compounds such as PCBs, Dioxin, or DDT are not amenable to biological detoxification. Between non-biodegradable and readily-degradable compounds are a large spectrum of resistant or slowly-biodegradable compounds. When you mix multiple compounds on a single site, individual degradation rates are often different than single compound studies done in a lab. So what should be considered when evaluating compounds/sites for biological treatment:
Number 1 is based on the hazardous material itself - some compounds are not amenable to biological degradation. The next 4 questions cover environmental factors that can be altered to promote biological treatment or simplified - you must make the conditions favorable to microbial growth. Finally, Number 6 covers the existing microbial population. If the needed microbes are not present or in insufficient numbers, detoxification will not occur. This is where bioaugmentation with required cultures initiates biological treatment.
Erik Rumbaugh has been involved in biological waste treatment for over 20 years. He has worked with industrial and municipal wastewater facilities to ensure optimal performance of their treatment systems. He is a founder of Aster Bio (www.asterbio.com) specializing in biological waste treatment.
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