Remediation of heavy metal-contaminated soil by microbial surfactants
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The common use of heavy metals in several industrial applications has led to their wide distribution in the wastewaters, sediments and soils. Today, due to heavy metals high toxicity and non-biodegradable nature, metal-polluted soils have become one of the serious environmental problems. Remediation technologies developed for metal ? contaminated soil are based on: 1) allowing heavy metals to remain in the polluted site after decreasing their availability by solidification / stabilization processes, or 2) removing heavy metals from soil by e.g. phytoremediation or soil extraction (flushing/washing). Techniques such as ex situ soil washing and in situ soil flushing transfer heavy metals to liquid phase by desorption and solubilization. To support heavy metals' removal from soil matrix, the washing water used in these methods is usually augmented with acids, bases, chelating agents or surfactants. Biosurfactants, surface-active agents of biological origin, produced mainly by microorganisms, have gained considerable interest in environment remediation techniques due to some distinct advantages over the synthetic counterparts such as lower toxicity, higher biodegradability and high selectivity. This paper provides an overview of the application of biosurfactants for the remediation of heavy metal-contaminated soil. Promising alternative surfactant foam technology is described, too.
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Katarzyna Paraszkiewicz, Katedra Mikrobiologii Przemyslowej i Biotechnologii, Instytut Mikrobiologii i Immunologii, Uniwersytet Lodzki, ul. Banacha 12/16, 90-237 Lodz, Poland