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Phosphate-Mediated Remediation of Metals and Radionuclides

DOI: 10.1155/2014/786929

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Abstract:

Worldwide industrialization activities create vast amounts of organic and inorganic waste streams that frequently result in significant soil and groundwater contamination. Metals and radionuclides are of particular concern due to their mobility and long-term persistence in aquatic and terrestrial environments. As the global population increases, the demand for safe, contaminant-free soil and groundwater will increase as will the need for effective and inexpensive remediation strategies. Remediation strategies that include physical and chemical methods (i.e., abiotic) or biological activities have been shown to impede the migration of radionuclide and metal contaminants within soil and groundwater. However, abiotic remediation methods are often too costly owing to the quantities and volumes of soils and/or groundwater requiring treatment. The in situ sequestration of metals and radionuclides mediated by biological activities associated with microbial phosphorus metabolism is a promising and less costly addition to our existing remediation methods. This review highlights the current strategies for abiotic and microbial phosphate-mediated techniques for uranium and metal remediation. 1. Introduction The global population is predicted to reach 10 billion by the year 2100 [1]. To support the demand for increased food production and access to fresh water, human societies will be forced to employ less desirable (i.e., lower quality) soil and groundwater resources for crop production and drinking water [1–3]. Human activities associated with 20th century industrial-scale production of electrical components, fabrics, fertilizers, inks and dyes, mining, metal production, paints, paper products, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, rubber, and plastics contribute to the degradation of surface and subsurface sediments and water quality as evidenced by the production of more than 1 million metric tons of metal waste per year [4, 5]. Governmental activities have also contributed to the contamination of soils and groundwater throughout the United States, where the legacy of nuclear weapons research and development has resulted in the contamination of estimated 75 million cubic meters of sediment and more than 1.8 billion cubic meters of groundwater [6]. The devastating 2011 earthquake of the coast of Japan and the subsequent tsunami that destroyed three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex highlight a more recent challenge to remediation and disposal of large quantities of nuclear fuel materials including radionuclides. The scope of the

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