Biosorption and accumulation of heavy metals and radionuclides – the use of environmental bacteria in bioremediation of mining wastewaters



Our aim is to identify bacteria present in the northern environment, that could be used in water treatment applications (incl. mining areas) and to study the biosorption and bioaccumulation of heavy metals (e.g. nickel) and radioactive substances occuring e.g. in mining areas (so-called Naturally Ocurring Radioactive Material, NORM; e.g .uranium, radium) using batch sorption experiments and various spectroscopic methods.

The research topic is socially significant, because in addition to climate change, our biggest challenges for the future are related to clean water, environmental protection and sustainable development. Heavy metals and radionuclides released from industrial effluents have adverse environmental and health impacts. These contaminants can be converted to chemically mobile forms by industrial processes, allowing them to spread in the environment with surface and groundwater and, under appropriate conditions, accumulate in toxic amounts in living nature. The aim of the research is to find both more environmentally friendly and more cost-effective solutions for the removal of harmful substances from the environment.

A significant advantage for the removal of contaminants from nothern areas like Finland is the use of bacterial strains isolated from the northern region, which have adapted to life in the northern climate and environment. When looking for site-specific solutions for wastewater treatment and while taking into account the characteristics of different areas (mineralogy, etc.), these bacteria can be assumed to be most potential for use in various bioremediation applications. In addition, the mapping of terrestrial microbiota in the northern environment increases knowledge of the effects of the microbiota on the transport and accumulation of environmental toxins in the northern environment.

Funded by: Maa- ja vesitekniikan tuki ry, The Emil Aaltonen Foundation, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Kaute Foundation
Gällande start-/slutdatum01/01/202131/12/2022