The pros and cons of Mycoremediation

Just came across this short analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of mycoremediation. Not sure if I agree with all the points but it’s a bit of food for thought. Comments?

Advantages and disadvantages
There are numerous advantages of using mycoremediation over commercialized technologies, including the following:
  • Public acceptance: It is a natural system, and does not introduce any corrosives or other chemicals for cleanup. In most cases, researchers use only native species on every site.
  • Natural: The fungal systems approach corrects an imbalance due to a contamination event or situation, and ultimately restores the natural function and balance of the system, bringing the contaminants within levels within the ecosystem that are no longer harmful.
  • Safety: Mycoremediation is expected to be safer than most other alternatives and it does not require digging up contaminated products, and disposing of it at waste sites. Additionally, the process does not produce secondary waste streams that require additional cleanup after the initial remediation.
  • Quiet: The technology is quieter than many alternatives, there are no structures, no machinery, and no noise. The system takes a day to set up, much like a landscaping project, and then left to do its work
  • Low maintenance: There is minimal handling and low maintenance of sites treated with fungi. On the other hand, bioremediation using bacteria or fertilizers and phytoremediation requires repeated application, weekly or biweekly tilling and turning, a lot of labor and maintenance.
  • Reusable end products: The end product of mycoremediation is nontoxic. The enriched and cleaned soil can be used for landscaping, road underlayment, or other purposes.
  • Low cost: The cost of using mycoremediation is relatively low in comparison to other technologies, as it it does not require building of new structures to house and process materials
  • Flexible: The size of the application can vary without any problem, and can be the size of a bucket, to acres across. Additionally, fungal treatments can work in almost any habitat and season.
  • Fast: The technology shows immediate results. There is immediate mitigation of odor and visible improvement to a site. For end results, mycoremediation is quicker than other technologies, such as phytoremediation and bacterial bioremediation. These treatments may require one to three years or more, and cannot address all the contaminants that fungus can attack. Fungal treatment requires weeks to months.
However, as with any technology, there are drawbacks as well:
  • Still in testing: Organizations that currently want to use the technology for cleanups are finding it a hard sell to their decision makers, as it is a technology that is unproven, and often times, those decision makers want to rely on proven technologies.
  • Applicability: There are many approaches to remediation; and certain ones are suitable in particular situations. For example, there are methods for sediment remediation that call for construction of incineration plants, or factories that turn the contaminated sediment into useful products such as glass, aggregate, tile, etc. In a case in which there is continuous, year-round dredging of a harbor such as New York/New Jersey, with an endless supply of this sediment, this strategy can be useful. Mycoremediation in this case would be too slow, and the space required for treatment or storage of materials could be prohibitive.
  • Efficiency level: Biological systems are never 100% efficient, which is difficult for some end-users to understand.
  • Surrounding environment: The use of a natural system can run into problems with the competitive natural environment in some areas, or with seasonal efficiency in extreme habitats.
The cost of using mycoremediation is expected to be lower than other technologies. There have been a few comparative studies that show that it will be much lower than that for any mechanical, chemical, electrical, thermal or other method that requires machinery, structures, facilities, power, or repeated application and maintenance. For starters, the materials needed to start the remediation (i.e. fungi) are less than other technologies. Additionally, treated soil in most studies has been proven to be cleaned up enough to reuse for landscaping, reducing costs for disposal and long term liability. So far, the mushrooms have shown no sign of contamination after doing their work. After treating the contamination, they decompose, preventing any costs related to disposal of the treatment material.

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