The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
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.
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 Forum, Advancing 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.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Pedro Biondi
Extinct in its habitat for at least three decades, the Alagoas curassow (Pauxi mitu) is now back in the jungle and facing a test of survival, thanks to the joint efforts of more than a dozen institutions to pull this pheasant-like bird back from the brink.
By Julia Conley
Sen. Elizabeth Warren expanded her vision for combating the climate crisis on Tuesday with the release of her Blue New Deal — a new component of the Green New Deal focusing on protecting and restoring the world's oceans after decades of pollution and industry-caused warming.
A judge in New York's Supreme Court sided with Exxon in a case that accused the fossil fuel giant of lying to investors about the true cost of the climate crisis. The judge did not absolve Exxon from its contribution to the climate crisis, but insisted that New York State failed to prove that the company intentionally defrauded investors, as NPR reported.
By Sharon Elber
You may have heard that giving a pet for Christmas is just a bad idea. Although many people believe this myth, according to the ASPCA, 86 percent of adopted pets given as gifts stay in their new homes. These success rates are actually slightly higher than average adoption/rehoming rates. So, if done well, giving an adopted pet as a Christmas gift can work out.