Saturday, 04 May 2019 22:35

Nature's Bioremediation

We are living in a world today that seems to be getting more and more polluted by the day. Our developed and industrialized societies have brought many advancements we benefit from, yet, along with it all, we became negligent of our relationship with this world in which we live. Now we face a dire situation as we tackle the challenges of global warming and the extreme disruptions it has brought to our once stable environment.

Fast action needs to be taken to reverse the negative impact we have made in such a short space of time. Part of this process involves the removal of pollutants from our soil, water, and air. Pollutants are harmful substances that may be introduced into the environment intentionally, such as traditional pesticides in agriculture sprayed on foods or chemicals used to protects building materials from fires and the elements. Other pollutants may enter the environment unintentionally as a result of another process or improper disposal of potentially toxic materials. Whatever the source there is a key step we can take to remedy the situation

Bio-remediation is the process whereby soil or water areas contaminated by pollutants are treated with biological solutions, in order to clean up the polluted areas. Essentially we are looking at detoxifying contaminated soils with the use of microorganisms, plants, and enzymes from either of the two. Understand that this process uses natures approach in a targeted process to break down these toxins in the environment. Let us explore a wide range of examples showing the impact the biology in high-quality organic soil amendments can have on environmental pollutants to remedy the situation in our soils. [1][2]

Compost, for example, encourages the growth of many types of bacteria that have the ability to help detoxify many types of pesticides, simply by using them as food. High humus level is the most important property facilitating pesticide degradation.[3] Statistical analysis showed that plants grown in soils amended with compost had fruits with higher concentrations of sodium (Na) and Potassium (P) and concentrations of beryllium (Be) and cadmium (Cd) decreased.  Another service of compost is in neutralizing toxins in the soil. The organic acids produced from compost have the ability to bind metals such as aluminum (highly toxic to plants and prevents the absorption of phosphorus) into stable compounds. Thus the aluminum is "locked up" in a stable complex, unable to harm plants.[4]

Furthermore, it was found that the toxicity of plant poisons (high salt concentrations, heavy metals, etc.) become less severe in a soil high in humus (compost).[5]  Hazardous chemicals such as carbofuran insecticide (carbamate family) and simazine herbicide (triazine family) were added to compost piles. Tests showed that 100% of the carbofuran was degraded and 98.6% of the simazine was degraded after only 50 days of composting.[6]

Compost has also been used to help clean up toxic wastes and chemical spills. Bioremediation of soil contaminated with diesel, JP-4, and motor gasoline at a site (Fairbanks, Alaska)

was treated with sewage sludge and composted. Within 70 days some toxins were below measurement limits and others significantly reduced.[7]

Numerous research has shown compost very effective at preventing erosion. This usually occurs at a lower cost and without the pollution of traditional or conventual approaches. The International Erosion Control Society at its 1994 conference in the USA had many papers on the use of compost for flood control, watershed management, sediment control, revegetation and xeriscape technology.

Further research has found, that biodegradation of PCB, TCB, and BaP (PAH) with compost is a function of time with a 40% reduction of these chemicals in 4 months.[8]  The White Rot Fungus that decomposes dead wood (into compost) also has the ability to clean up (digest) chemicals such as pentachlorophenol (a wood preservative more toxic than CCA), dioxins, cyanides, DDT, TNT (explosive), creosote, and coal tar. Other toxic chemicals being tested are Lindane and Toxaphene. After treatment, it was found that 90% of the toxin was destroyed within 60 days.

Honestly, we could spend all day citing the volume of research done over the years, proving the effectiveness of bioremediation, on some of the most persistent pollutants in our environment. More specifically the role of compost and the microorganisms within. We are at a point where we have access to more information than ever before. How we choose to use that information can define the quality of our tomorrow. How we respond to this situation can mean the continuation or end of the planet we once knew.






  1. Research by Carl Potter of the EPA has found that composting significantly reduces polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons found in creosote. BioCycle September 1995.
  2. Compost is valuable as a pollution prevention tool from stormwater treatment to global warming (methane contributes to global warming 400X more than CO2). BioCycle 1995 Washington D.C., Rosalie Green, Ph.D., EPA
  3. ”Evaluating the Suitability of MSW Compost as Soil Amendment in Field-Grown Tomatoes, Part B: Elemental Analysis", D.E. Stilwell, Compost Science & Utilization, 1(3):66-72 (1993)
  4. Composting, Rodale Press, 1992.
  5. Humus: Origin, Chemical Composition, and Importance in Nature, Dr. Selman A. Waksman.
  6. Department of Health Services, California, October 1988.
  7. Treatment of Fuel Product Contaminated Soil in a Cold Climate Using Composting Technology; T. J. Simpkin, D. Walter, J. Doesburg, June 1992.
  8. Compost Science & Utilization, Winter 1995
Published in Facts & Info

Andre Leu's 2018 book, Poisoning Our Children: The Parent’s Guide To The Myths Of Safe Pesticides, is a book that should be read by everyone who eats food!

An updated version of his 2014 book, The Myths of Safe Pesticides, this book provides a clear discussion of the harmful health effects of inadequate regulation of toxic chemicals that are widely applied to the food we eat. 
Andre Leu reviews a vast field of technical literature and explaining clearly how these chemical can act to cause intensifying epidemics of diseases. In many cases the chemicals used are far more toxic when they “break down”, or because of the mixture of untested and allegedly “inert” materials they are mixed with, or to test the effects on the most vulnerable infants.
He  exposes the disgraceful failure of regulatory agencies around the world to protect the public from chemicals they inadvertently consume with their food that have either dangerous direct poisonous effects through chemical action, or which trigger biochemical or genetic responses that can last for generations.  
He shows that this is accomplished by widespread manipulation of data to reject sound science in place of industry-manufactured fake news about the effects of their products using “studies” that have been deliberately designed to fail to show them by using the wrong mixtures of chemicals, for the wrong length of time. 
One of the most alarming examples given is that of Glyphosate, or “Roundup” the most widely used herbicide, which is causing thousands of farm workers across Central America, Asia, and Africa, and their families to suffer severe kidney problems. The testing procedures for these chemicals ignore the toxic mix of other chemicals which are added because they increase the activity of the toxic chemicals, but which are labelled as “inert” so they are exempt from testing! Thousands are dying from these chemicals while the companies producing them are getting rich while denying that there is any effect at all.   
Andre Leu deserves public thanks for putting this important information out. Andre is the former President of The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM - Organics International), the worldwide umbrella organization for some 800 affiliates in 117 countries, and has led efforts to promote organic farming methods for healthier food. At the same time he has been a leader in global efforts to regenerate our planet’s health and reverse climate change by using agricultural methods that heal soil by regenerating their soil carbon. 
A few weeks ago Andre Leu showed me his magnificent organic tropical fruit tree farm in the Daintree Rainforest area of Queensland, Australia. His soil had healthy lumps in a wide range of sizes, which allowed water poured onto the ground to soak straight down where roots can use it, so his farm stayed green even though the area was suffering from record high temperatures and the most severe drought in memory. 
In contrast the sugar cane farm soil surface was baked hard like concrete, so water poured onto it runs right off the surface, carrying topsoil with it into rivers and into the sea, where it has killed the coral reefs that used to line Queensland shores. 
I had just the day before walked the dead reef with the Aboriginal Australian community who used to live from harvesting the abundant life of the coral reefs and seagrass beds, that were now dead and smothered in mud, with the dead corals overgrown by weedy algae that bloom prolifically because of all the agricultural fertilizers washed off the farm with the soil. 
The difference is that Andre’s soil has more than 6 times more organic matter in it, from composting, so it holds much more water and has a longer growing season. He took soil samples from his farm and from the conventional sugar cane farm next door, added water, and stirred. His soil kept together, and the water soon cleared, but the sugar cane farm soil turned into a muddy slurry that remained turbid hours later. 
If all the farms used his methods, we could keep the soil, the nutrients, and the water in the ground where it is most useful, instead of flushing it into the ocean and killing our most productive marine ecosystems.
I strongly urge everyone to read this book, and ask their own families and friends read it too, for a better future for their own health and that of the planet they live on!
Thomas J. F. Goreau, PhD is the President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, Biorock Technology Inc.,
Coordinator of the Soil Carbon Alliance and the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development
Small Island Developing States Partnership in New Sustainable Technologies. 
He is also the author of:
 Geotherapy: Innovative Methods of Soil Fertility Restoration, Carbon Sequestration, and Reversing CO2 Increase

Innovative Methods of Marine Ecosystem Restoration
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Published in Facts & Info
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