Gene Expression Factor (GEF) Cleanup of Contaminated Brownfields Reduces Cost and Time - Biotech Restorations (2)
Gene Expresson Factors
A successful pesticides site cleanup near Morgan Hill, CA
Although the chemical industry has long appreciated the benefits of persistence afforded by chlorinating a chemical product, the industry failed to appreciate the long-term environmental and potential human health consequences of producing millions of tons of toxic materials that were essentially immune to natural breakdown.
Today PCBs and pesticides are ubiquitous in the environment and while there is little qualified dispute as to the harmful effects of these toxins, there is also a growing body of scientific and medical research that point to a causal relationship between these persistent toxins and human disease.
For the first time, the physiological mechanisms of designed persistence were becoming known. With this knowledge Dr. Paynter and her research team launched a focused effort to develop a method by which chemically repressed genes could be de-repressed thereby promoting microbial enzyme production and the destruction of the target pollutant. In 1994, the research team succeeded in developing the first Microbial Gene Expression Factor designed to negate chemically induced gene repression and to promote rapid microbial destruction of persistent organic chemicals in treated soils.
This report provides a brief synopsis of four laboratory bench scale and field studies that illustrate the effectiveness of FACTOR TREATMENTS in biologically reducing and eliminating PCBs and pesticides. In addition to the effectiveness of the treatments, the principals of BioTech Restorations (formerly RTE) believe that the economics of Factor Treatments will motivate owners of contaminated sites to take a pro-active position relative to site remediation. Initial modeling suggests potential savings of up to 70% over conventional disposal methods.
The fourth test commenced in July 2000 for the US Air Force. At the Air Force Base, soils with an average PCB (Aroclor 1260) concentration of less than 5 ppm were collected. The focus of this study was to determine if a modified Factor Treatment could reduce the PCB levels to less than 1 ppm in 60 to 90 days. As many PCB sites are only nominally contaminated (<25 ppm), owners of these sites are faced with costs that are equal to cleanup costs associated with more highly contaminated sites. A less costly and timely cleanup option would allow owners of marginally contaminated sites to cleanup their sites quickly and at a fraction of the cost of conventional cleanup.
In July 2005, BioTech Restorations applied Factor to the Borello Property, a 14-acre parcel contaminated with Toxaphene and Dieldrin down to 2 feet below ground surface in Morgan Hill, California under a DTSC approved RAW. Toxaphene concentrations were detected greater than 6 ppm and Dieldrin concentrations were detected up to 0.48 ppm. By August 2005, Toxaphene was not detected and Dieldrin concentrations were below 0.017 ppm. The property was formerly closed by the DTSC in October 2005 as an “unrestricted use site.” A copy of the DTSC News Release is attached.
Each test involved a single Factor Treatment incorporated into the test soil as a dry powder. The test soils were amended to increase organic carbon content and an average moisture level of 23% was maintained during the course of testing. Except in the anaerobic studies, soils were turned every ten days and monitored for microbial activity, pH; moisture content and chloride ion production. In the anaerobic studies, flooding the test chambers with de-gassed water maintained an anaerobic condition. The target contaminants were degraded in a two-step process, the first of which was microbial de-chlorination of the compound followed by rapid destruction of the residual constituent compounds. Because de-chlorination occurs as a first step in the treatment process (confirmed in chloride ion production studies), no problematic intermediate compounds were created during the treatment process.
Analysis of the microbial populations in Factor treated soils also suggests that both aerobic and anaerobic microbial populations respond positively to Factor Treatments, although anaerobic populations respond at a slightly slower rate. Aerobic studies suggest that a modified on site land farming treatment could eliminate the necessity for off site disposal and ultimately result in a more complete cleanup as treated soils may be used to “seed” other nominally contaminated areas.
The implications of Gene Expression Factors extend beyond a new site remediation or cleanup option. For years researchers have attempted to create “super bugs” or microorganisms genetically altered to perform functions not inherent to their natural genetic composition. The wisdom of constructing a potential pathogen to eliminate a toxin is questionable wisdom at best. However, in the absence of an understanding of chemically induced gene repression, it’s understandable that research has moved in this direction.
There is a critical distinction to be made between Gene Expression Factors and genetic engineering or genetic manipulation.
As BioTech Restorations expands its research, we expect to uncover more answers to questions pertaining to the interrelationship of organic chemicals to a variety of ecosystems and the inhabitants. While past Factor Treatment studies have been performed utilizing powdered formulations, BioTech Restorations plans to conduct future tests utilizing liquid treatments for subsurface injection into less accessible anaerobic zones of contamination. Studies are also planned to monitor the reductive effects of Factor Treatments in contaminated marine sediments.
It’s appropriate that at the beginning of a new millennium a new and better method of eliminating environmental pollutants is at hand. The antiquated practice of burning or burying our environmental problems must be reexamined in light of our knowledge that burn and bury practices are ultimately destructive and merely displace or transfer the inevitable resolution of the problem to future generations. While it’s safe to assume that an industrialized society will generate hazardous wastes, it should also be assumed that advances in dealing with these wastes would be made and adopted.
Biotechnology and Gene Expression Factor Treatments are not a panacea for all environmental problems and certainly site conditions exist where Factor Treatments may not perform well. However, at thousands of sites across the United States this elegantly simple yet effective remediation technology has the potential of significantly reducing site cleanup costs, especially in Brownfield Redevelopment projects. As cost considerations remain the principal factor delaying site cleanup, it stands to reason that a less costly treatment would serve to motivate responsible parties to become more proactive in cleaning up their polluted sites and returning these sites to productivity.
Dr. Val Paynter
Protocol and Laboratory Director
137 Cross Center Road, #143
Denver, North Carolina 28037
1989 Santa Rita Road, Suite A-165
Pleasanton, California 94566
Robert D. Campbell
GeoSolve is the West-Coast distributor for BioTech Restorations with three remediation projects completed using BioTech Restorations solutions.
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