July 28, 2011
EPA to Use Fish Bones to Reduce Lead Contamination in Soil
By Chad Love
Lead-contaminated soil remains one of the nation's most prevalent and costly environmental problems, but researchers have found a novel, cheap and easy way to mitigate lead's toxicity using...fish bones?
From this story in the New York Times:
Alaskan pollock is usually the faux stand-in for crab meat or the main ingredient in fast-food fish sandwiches. But now the flaky fish is moving into a new realm — as part of the solution to one of the nation’s longest-running toxic waste problems.
"...The principle is straightforward, said Victor R. Johnson, an engineer with Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc. “The fish bones are full of calcium phosphate,” he said. “As they degrade, the phosphates migrate into the soil.” The lead in the soil, deposited by car exhaust from the decades when gasoline contained lead or from lead-based paint residue, binds with the phosphate and transforms into pyromorphite, a crystalline mineral that will not harm anyone even if consumed. This alchemy has been practiced in university and commercial laboratories for more than 15 years, and more recently has been employed at acid-mine sites and military bases. But now it is also coming to residential neighborhoods like South Prescott in Oakland, which this month became the first in the country where fishbone meal is being mixed into the soil for lead control under a project organized by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Thoughts? Is there enough pollock in the sea to clean up all the lead in our soil?