Quantcast

Mushrooms Used for Bioremediation to Clean Pesticides From Oregon Waterways

Putting ideas into action, an Oregon-based restoration nonprofit group, Ocean Blue Project, is harnessing the power of mushrooms to clean up pesticides and other pollutants that plague Oregon and national waterways. Yes, mushrooms.

These oyster mushroom have the filtering potential to break down oil, pesticides and harmful bacteria.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The test project launched Sunday, Jan. 19 on the banks of Sequoia Creek, a tributary to the Willamette River. Using recycled burlap bags filled with used coffee grounds, straw and yellow oyster mushroom spawn, the purpose of the unusual potpourri will be to harness the extremely effective filtering capabilities of mycelium.

A kind of root system for fungi, mycelium demonstrate a wide variety of biological powers, from breaking down oil, pesticides and harmful bacteria to acting as natural pesticides against some of the most problematic pests.

Paul Stamets, a leading expert on the power of mushrooms and former speaker at Beyond Pesticides’ National Pesticide Forum in 2006, has a word for the natural properties of fungi to fight human-made pollution: mycorestoration. As Mr. Stamets explained to Discover Magazine in 2013, “Oyster mushrooms, for example, can digest the complex hydrocarbons in wood, so they can also be used to break down petroleum byproducts. Garden Giants use their mycelia to trap and eat bacteria, so they can filter E. coli from agricultural runoff.”

Richard Arterbury, president of the Ocean Blue Project, agrees. Mr. Arterbury explained to reporters at Corvallis Gazette-Times, that the technique could potentially be a low-cost way to use biologic processes to reduce pollution in waterways. Mr. Arterbury thinks the project has huge potential. “If you put enough of these bags by the Willamette River it could potentially change the river,” he said.

Pesticides in Water

And change is needed not just in Oregon. Waterways in the U.S. are increasingly imperiled from various agents, including agricultural and industrial discharges, nutrient loading (nitrogen and phosphorus), and biological agents such as pathogens. Pesticides discharged into our nation’s rivers, lakes and streams can harm or kill fish and amphibians.

These toxicants have the potential to accumulate in the fish we eat and the water we drink. As pesticide use escalates and waterways and drinking water become increasingly polluted with unregulated contaminants like pesticides and other toxicants, low-cost and natural alternatives for restoring waterways are desperately needed. 

Discussing innovative new practices and alternatives to address pesticide contamination will be just one of the many exciting topics at this year’s 32nd National Pesticide ForumAdvancing Sustainable Communities: People, Pollinators and Practices. Please join Beyond Pesticides, Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides and Portland State University’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions April 11-12, 2014 in Portland, OR, to help communities everywhere make strides in reducing pesticides and moving communities everywhere towards a more sustainable future.

Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY and WATER pages for more related news on this topic.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Science
The Ross Ice Shelf at the Bay of Whales. Michael Van Woert, NOAA

Scientists Study Ice Shelf by Listening to Its Changing Sounds

By Marlene Cimons

Researchers monitoring vibrations from Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf were flabbergasted not long ago to hear something unexpected—the ice was "singing" to them. "We were stunned by a rich variety of time-varying tones that make up this newly described sort of signal," said Rick Aster, professor of geosciences at Colorado State University, one of the scientists involved in the study.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
DSLRVideo.com / Flicker / CC BY-SA 2.0

'Go Out and Vote' Patagonia Endorses Candidates For First Time in Its History

Outdoor brand Patagonia is endorsing candidates for the first time in its history in an effort to protect the country's at-risk public lands and waters.

The civic-minded retailer is backing two Democrats in two crucial Senate races: the re-election of Sen. Jon Tester of Montana; and Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Desert Bighorn Sheep in Joshua Tree National Park. Kjaergaard / CC BY 3.0

Leaked Trump Administration Memo: Keep Public in Dark About How Endangered Species Decisions Are Made

In a Trump administration memorandum leaked to the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is directing its staff to withhold, or delay releasing, certain public records about how the Endangered Species Act is carried out. That includes records where the advice of career wildlife scientists may be overridden by political appointees in the Trump administration.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Disposable diapers add staggering amounts of waste to landfills. Pxhere

Dirty Diapers Could Be Recycled Into Fabrics, Furniture Under P&G Joint Venture

Disposal diapers can take an estimated 500 years to decompose. That means if Henry VIII wore disposables, they'd probably still be around today.

Although throwaway nappies are undoubtedly convenient, these mostly-synthetic items cause never-ending steams of waste that will take centuries to disappear.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
The swelling barrier lake after a landslide forced evacuations along the Yarlung Zangbo River. YouTube screenshot / CCTV+

6,000 Evacuated After Tibet Landslide

Six thousand people have been evacuated after a landslide in Tibet Wednesday blocked a river that flows downstream into India, creating a lake that could cause major flooding in the subcontinent once the debris is cleared, The Associated Press reported.

Chinese emergency officials announced the evacuations Thursday. The landslide impacted a village in Menling County, but no one was killed or injured, Chinese officials said.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Pexels

Carbon Capture: What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Climate Change

By Daniel Ross

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report lays out a rather grim set of observations, predictions and warnings. Perhaps the biggest takeaway? That the world cannot warm more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5°C) over pre-industrial levels without significant impacts.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Fossil-fueled power plant. glasseyes view...up&away / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Trump Team Again Asks SCOTUS to Stop Youth Climate Case as Trial Nears

Once again, the Trump administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt a groundbreaking constitutional climate lawsuit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs, just over a week before the case heads to trial in Eugene, Oregon.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice filed a second "writ of mandamus" petition— an uncommonly used legal maneuver—and application for stay with the high court.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Mark Miller Photos / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Trump White House Pushes to Let Minors Spray Brain-Damaging Pesticides on Farms

The White House's just-released list of planned environmental and public health rollbacks includes letting high-school-age kids spray brain-damaging pesticides on commercial farms.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!