Bioremediation of soils


Although microorganisms are degrading the contaminants in bioremediation processes, soil animals can also have important-while usually an indirect-role in these processes. Soil animals are useful indicators of soil contamination, both before and after the bioremediation. Many toxicity and bioavailability assessment methods utilizing soil animals have been developed for hazard and risk-assessment procedures.

Not only the survival of the animals, but also more sensitive parameters like growth, reproduction and community structure have often been taken into account in the assessment. The use of bioassays together with chemical analyses gives the most reliable results for risk analyses. This is because physical, chemical and biological properties of the remediated soil may be changed during the process, and it is possible that transformation rather than mineralization of the contaminants has taken place.

In addition, the soil may contain other harmful substances than those searched in chemical analyses. Finally, because the ultimate goal of the bioremediation should be- together with mineralization of the harmful substances- the ecological recovery of the soil, development of diverse decomposer community as a basis of the functioning ecosystem should be ensured.

Soil animals, especially the large ones, can also actively take part in the ecological recovery processes through their own activity. The potential risk of transfer of contaminants accumulated in soil animals to the above-ground food webs should be borne in mind.

Anabell Rose
Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation
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