Bioremediation and Petroleum Hydrocarbons Essay

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Petroleum hydrocarbons from oil spills threaten marine life worldwide. Animals become coated in the oil and ingest the contaminants while trying to clean themselves. The toxic effects of petroleum often result in death for much of the surrounding life. Although contaminants could be removed by physical means, this does not dispose of the dangerous petroleum hydrocarbons. Bioremediation offers an efficient solution for cleaning up oil spills. The pollutants are biologically degraded by complete mineralization of the organic contaminants, turning the toxic waste into harmless products such as carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and cell protein (Das and Chandran 2010). Bioremediation can clean up our oceans without
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2006). In 2010, there was an oil spill in the Great Barrier Reef when a Chinese bulk coal carrier released 40 tons of oil after striking the reef. There have been numerous spills in oceans worldwide that release such a large amount of oil and every resource possible must be used for damage control. Enhanced natural biodegradation is a natural alternative that removes the physical pollution but also the biological contaminants at this time.

Most crude oils are naturally biodegradable and are broken down into biomass, water, and natural gases (Swannell et al. 1996). Bioremediation is most efficient with the maximum availability of microorganisms at the waste site. This is dependent upon several factors, including (but not limited to) the concentration of nutrients, oxygen levels, climate conditions, and the characteristics of sediments (Swannell et al. 1996). It is vital that extra nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous be added, or bioremediation will be slow and insignificant (Cappello et al. 2006). Cappello et al. tested microbial community dynamics in an oil-contaminated harbor. They concluded that increased nutrients led to a prompt response of bacterial abundance and increased phosphate activity rates after reviewing their experimental results. Margesin et al. (2007) also conducted an experiment to explore some of the factors that influence efficient bioremediation

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