Bioremediation of explosive polluted environments

 

Environmental contamination by the waste products of over 70 years of explosive munitions production and testing presents a very serious problem to human health. Explosives such as TNT retain their ability to explode for decades as well as being highly toxic to virtually all organisms. They are retained in the environment where they accumulate as most are highly insoluble. The most effective method of destruction currently employed is incineration, however this is a costly process.
Until recently, it has been difficult to find organisms to degrade TNT as it’s xenobiotic structure makes it a difficult target for biological enzymes. Within the past few decades a small number of microorganisms have been isolated from munitions sites around the world and have found to be at least partially degrading the groups on TNT. Is it a possibility that these organisms could lead the way to developing new technologies that can remove and detoxify TNT and its products from environments in a more cost effective and safe manner?
There are many different microorganisms that are currently under scientific investigation due to their potential degradative properties of TNT and they are currently being used to develop new technologies.

 

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