Pure Appl. Chem., Vol. 73, No. 7, pp. 1163–1172, 2001.
© 2001 IUPAC
Bioremediation. An overview*
Dipartimento di Chimica Inorganica, Metallorganica, e Analitica, Università di
Padova Via Loredan, 4 35128 Padova, Italy
Abstract: A brief outline of the development of bioremediation technologies is presented.
The major features and limitations are discussed, and an overview of the current state of the
art in field applications is sketched.
The quality of life on Earth is linked inextricably to the overall quality of the environment. In early
times, we believed that we had an unlimited abundance of land and resources; today, however, the
resources in the world show, in greater or lesser degree, our carelessness and negligence in using them.
The problems associated with contaminated sites now assume increasing prominence in many coun-
tries. Contaminated lands generally result from past industrial activities when awareness of the health
and environmental effects connected with the production, use, and disposal of hazardous substances
were less well recognized than today. The problem is worldwide, and the estimated number of con-
taminated sites is significant . It is now widely recognized that contaminated land is a potential threat
to human health, and its continual discovery over recent years has led to international efforts to reme-
dy many of these sites, either as a response to the risk of adverse health or environmental effects caused
by contamination or to enable the site to be redeveloped for use.
The conventional techniques used for remediation have been to dig up contaminated soil and
remove it to a landfill, or to cap and contain the contaminated areas of a site. The methods have some
drawbacks. The first method simply moves the contamination elsewhere and may create significant
risks in the excavation, handling, and transport of hazardous material. Additionally, it is very difficult
and increasingly expensive to find new landfill sites for the final disposal of the material