In Europe alone as many as 3 million sites are thought to have been affected by activities that cause land pollution. As the result of an EU initiative, a network known as REMEDIATE has been set up to work towards solutions to the problem.
Reducing the level of contaminants in land to make it suitable for use needs to be carried out in a sustainable manner. It also needs to be quick and affordable so the EU bioremediation initiative works by employing fungi and microorganisms to repair the environment. The three main processes used are natural attenuation, biostimulation and bioaugmentation.
Natural attenuation works through the natural ability of microorganisms to degrade materials contaminating the land. In biostimulation, nutrients or substrates are added in order to stimulate the microorganisms. Bioaugmentation enhances the biodegradability of the contaminants by inoculating the native microorganisms with the ability to degrade contaminants.
Science Daily reports that it has been found that the most promising method of remediation for land contaminated by atrazine, a pesticide which was discontinued in the EU 25 years ago, is through adding carbon.
In bioremediation, many different groups of bacteria can use organic pollutants for growth, but there is still the challenge of selecting the best remediation strategy for each site. If you are wondering “where can I get help on land remediation services?” the solution may depend on choosing the cheapest and quickest solution.
The health risks posed by contaminated land may be overestimated in current studies since they are frequently based on exposure to the whole concentration. Work is ongoing to improve the methodologies used in investigations.
Although legal and financial aspects are important, perhaps the most major challenge is the environmental sustainability of remediation of contaminated land. This can be assessed through the use of an LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) tool that will quantify how sustainable processes and products are systematically. A dedicated software tool for this purpose is under development.
Past industrialisation in Europe has left us with thousands of contaminated sites. Around half a million of these need remediation and it is hoped that, through commercialising new technologies that have been developed by REMEDIATE collaboration, the remediation of these sites can be accelerated and the land released for development. Land is needed for both industrial development and for domestic projects.