Superfund Research Program (SRP) researchers were on hand at the Battelle Fifth International Symposium on Bioremediation and Sustainable Environmental Technologies to discuss advances in green and sustainable approaches to clean up hazardous waste sites. The conference provided a forum for sharing research results, practical experiences, and opportunities in the field, including advances in bioremediation, or the cleanup of contaminants using microorganisms.
Scientists and engineers from small business Microbial Insights described their work using big data and integrating molecular tools to assess conditions that can affect bioremediation. As part of their SRP-funded project, they are refining their monitoring tools to measure small molecules that provide insight into the microbial communities at hazardous waste sites.
Individual research project leader Upal Ghosh, Ph.D., from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, presented his findings from an SRP-funded pilot study to remove high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls from a former wastewater treatment pond.
Several researchers involved in an SRP individual research project at Johns Hopkins University explained how they are using microbes to degrade benzenes, a contaminant that has been linked to leukemia and other health effects, in wetland sediments.
SRP researchers also participated in sessions related to cleanup of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a large group of compounds that have been used widely to make everyday products resistant to stains, grease, and water. The chemical properties that make PFAS stable and desirable for so many applications and products also make them incredibly persistent in the environment. Former Brown University SRP Center trainee Jennifer Guelfo, Ph.D., now an assistant professor at Texas Tech University, served on a panel focused on ways to effectively manage PFAS risks and liability. University of Pennsylvania SRP Center researcher Edward Emmett, M.D., participated in another panel describing the development of strategies to communicate risk with communities near sites contaminated with PFAS.