Restoration and protection of aqueous environments by utilizing aquatic organisms

Vernon P. Hershberger, Marilyn G. Hershberger, Nicholas R. Hild, Jane E. Humble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Past and current uncontrolled dumping, land application and accidental spills of recalcitrant, toxic environmental pollutants such as DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) pose a continued world-wide environmental threat, in particular to aquatic environments. Bioaccumulative contaminants are rapidly absorbed out of water-borne ambient environments and concentrated in the tissues of living aquatic organisms at concentrations that can range from thousands to millions of times greater than levels in the ambient environment. These absorbed levels are high enough to cause dysfunction in the organisms and potential harmful effects to humans. An established technology capable of remediating the low contaminant levels originating in the ambient aquatic environment does not currently exist. This paper proposes the 'macro-bioremediation process' whereby certain fish and other macroscopic aquatic organisms could be used to filter, concentrate and remove bioaccumulative contaminants from polluted aqueous systems. Contaminant removal would involve the harvesting and subsequent restocking of aquatic organisms capable of bioaccumulating high contaminant levels in relatively short time periods. Tissues of harvested organisms could be composted with specialized fungus and bacteria to fully degrade the recalcitrant contaminants. The macro-bioremediation process could be used at numerous geographic locations for the restoration of natural aquatic environments, supplemental wetlands treatment and for waste-water, hazardous waste and sludge treatment augmentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-96
Number of pages14
JournalThe Environmentalist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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