Chemical waste produced by humans via industry and agriculture create harmful impacts in the environment (Adenipekun & Lawal, 2012). The problem with these man-made chemicals is the inability of organisms to breakdown the compounds in these chemicals (Adenipekun & Lawal, 2012). The reason for the inability to breakdown these chemicals, is that they are not originally found in nature (Adenipekun & Lawal, 2012). Examples of these chemicals include hydrocarbons such as oil in addition to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s) (Adenipekun & Lawal, 2012). Incineration is currently the only economical method of disposing these chemicals (Adenipekun & Lawal, 2012).
Hydrocarbons are released into the environment several ways. For example, oil is released through accidents, sabotage, and leakages in pipelines as well as during drilling (Emuh, 2010). Other sources of pollution include the application of pesticides in agriculture (Adenipekun & Lawal, 2012). Sulphide pollution can be released into the air via the burning of gas and petroleum production (Emuh, 2010).
Pollution can have several effects on the environment. Oil pollution in soils for example can influence how much water is retained in soil (Emuh, 2010). The retention of essential nutrients such as iron, phosphorous and manganese can be affected leading to nutrient deficiencies in plants (Emuh, 2010). The shortage of water and lack of nutrients severely impact plant growth and function( Emuh, 2010). Seeds can also be impacted as there biological functions can be disrupted (Emuh, 2010). Chemical pollution can also affect human health such as heavy metal poisoning (Adenipekun & Lawal, 2012).
How do we solve this problem? Mushrooms!
Bioremediation is the use of organisms found in nature to degrade and transform toxic materials (Adenipekun & Lawal, 2012). There are several species of mushroom that have been studied. Each having it’s own success with different pollutants (Emuch, 2010). For example white-rot fungus has been used to absorb heavy metals from soil (Adenipekun & Lawal, 2012). Oyster mushrooms, through the process of mineralization and metabolization, “metabolized 97% of oil similar to oil spilled” in the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska( Emuh, 2010).
These are but a few of the fungi species that have been studied. More knowledge needs to be collected in order to implement a multi-tear system of chemical management, technology and remediation techniques to have significant impact on pollutants in the environment.
Adenipekun, C., O., Lawal, R.(2012). Uses of mushrooms in bioremediation: A review. Biotechnology and Molecular Review, 7(3), 62-68.
Emuh, F., N.(2010). Mushroom as a purifier of crude oil polluted soil. International Journal of Science and Nature, 1(2), 127-132.
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