Bioremediation used to alleviate surface water pollution

Sep 14, 2012
Bioremediation used to alleviate surface water pollution

European research has investigated the possibility of using naturally occurring microbes to bio-decontaminate groundwater, a source of organic solvent pollutants in surface water.

and surface waters are often characterised as separate resources although they are interrelated. seeps through the soil and becomes groundwater. Conversely, and relevant to the EU project, 'Sediment biobarriers for chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons in groundwater reaching surface water' (Sedbarcah), groundwater can feed surface water sources.

Sedbarcah aimed to investigate the possibility that the sediment between surface and groundwater may act as a supply of both biological and physico-chemical degradation agents. In particular, the scientists focused on the biological source, a natural biobarrier.

Harnessing the action of anaerobic microbes present in sediments because of eutrophication, the project aimed to put the bacteria to good use. To do this, they determined the role and genetic make-up of the microbial community living in the river bed by monitoring activity in sediments of the River Zenna in Belgium and the Belá river in the Czech Republic.

The project team concentrated specifically on a group of pollutants, the chlorinated hydrocarbons (CAHs). One, perchlorethylene (PCE), is a very common organic solvent from dry cleaning and . Under , the CAHs can be completely oxidised to carbon dioxide (CO2), water and chlorine by the microbes. Sedbarcah focused on dechlorinating bacteria in particular.

The next step was then to increase the pollutant removal activities and sustain these processes, as well as develop tools to investigate microbial degradation in situ. To increase the bioremediation potential of the community, the scientists investigated the effects of changing variables like nutrients and and receptors.

Surface water contamination with dissolved CAHs from degreasing activities in industry is a significant problem with their appearance at concentrations that are harmful and carcinogenic. Sedbarcah has collected valuable data for bioremediation systems to decontaminate surface water systems.

Explore further: Researchers develop new instrument to monitor atmospheric mercury

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bacteria That Degrade PCBs Identified

Mar 28, 2007

Researchers have identified a group of bacteria that can detoxify a common type of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which have contaminated more than 250 U.S. sites, including river and lake sediments.

Toxic compounds in groundwater

Jun 22, 2011

Vinyl chloride is a cancer-causing compound formed from solvents in groundwater systems under anaerobic conditions. These solvents are used in many industrial applications around the world and often belong to the most encountered ...

Recommended for you

Arsenic stubbornly taints many US wells, say new reports

21 hours ago

Naturally occurring arsenic in private wells threatens people in many U.S. states and parts of Canada, according to a package of a dozen scientific papers to be published next week. The studies, focused mainly ...

Who's been affected by Australia's extreme heat? Everyone

Jan 30, 2015

Australia has been hit by two years of heat: 2013 was the hottest ever recorded and 2014 wasn't far behind, taking third place. The country has also sweltered through several significant heatwaves, and, though ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.