How Clean Is Environmental Remediation?

published Feb 27, 2019
1 min read

Environmental Remediation

Environmental remediation helps to heal an area affected by pollution, contamination and radiation exposure. When chemical spills or industrial effluents endanger the local flora and fauna, companies can hire a service to address the issue and rehabilitate the land. This rehabilitation involves the use of many different methods.

As we examine these methods, it’s necessary to understand the two classifications of remediation technologies. “In-situ” technologies treat contamination at the spot, where “ex-situ” technologies require excavation and extraction of elements for later treatment at the surface. Both in-situ and ex-situ techniques are effective.

We’ll explore several of those techniques in this article, reviewing strategies which restore affected areas to their former health and beauty. Environmental remediation has never been more relevant, and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about its function in today’s increasingly industrial landscape.

1. Bioremediation

Scientists and business experts at the University of Minnesota are developing software to study how enzymes in bacteria break down chemicals at a microscopic level. The knowledge they gain through their testing will inform future industrial processes and products, helping to prevent contamination in waterways.

Through examining the process of bioremediation, researchers hope to classify which species of bacteria are most effective at removing a particular chemical. Their efforts will prove valuable to chemical developers and companies which produce industrial waste, providing in-situ and ex-situ solutions to address their issues.

Bacterial remediation has already proven its value in “activated sludge,” which has seen in-situ application in municipal water treatment plants. This procedure filters agricultural runoff, chemicals from personal care products and organic matter from plants and animals — all through the eco-friendly use of bacteria.

2. Oil Absorption Media

Oil absorption media has incredible value in environmental remediation. Its success rests in an active ingredient with the capacity to carry up to two to three times its own weight in oil, using materials like modified clay and zeolite. With a broad spectrum of applications, its flexibility is impressive.

As a stand-alone solution, oil absorption media is useful for polishing the effluent of physical separators and preparing water for treatment downstream. It also serves an in-situ function in environmental remediation for oil spills, absorbing 80 to 90 percent of undissolved oil in an influent water stream.

Whether a pipeline sustains damage or an accident at a refinery causes a spill, environmental remediation efforts are critical to addressing the issue. Through the implementation of oil absorption media and other similar solutions, companies can promptly attend to damage control before the situation escalates.

3. Nanoremediation

Nanotechnology has moved beyond the realm of science fiction to groundwater treatment. Otherwise known as “nanoremediation,” this strategy for rehabilitation employs nanoparticles which degrade organic contaminants and immobilise toxic metals like lead, arsenic and mercury.

In-situ field applications for nanoremediation use nano zero-valent iron for groundwater and soil. Through direct injection or a pump-and-treat process, this method infuses small particles to the contaminated spot. While these field of technology is still in development, it holds incredible promise for the future of the planet.

Research is presently underway for wastewater and sediment cleanup, and scientists are even exploring the function of nanoparticles in the removal of toxicity from gases. Among other technologies for environmental remediation, nanoremediation is one of the most exciting and intriguing solutions for restoration.

An Optimistic Outlook

No company is infallible, and despite their best efforts, accidents happen. Fortunately, environmental remediation allows these companies to take responsibility for their mistakes and rehabilitate affected areas. Whether they use bioremediation, oil absorption media or nanoremediation, they have a wide variety of solutions.

As we look toward the future, it’s important to maintain an optimistic outlook. Despite the damage our planet has sustained, it’s possible to reverse.


Emily Folk is a conservation and sustainability freelance writer and blogger from Lancaster, PA. Check out her blog, Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter for the latest updates!