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Waste Management and Modern Environmental Biotechnology
Human activities have not only increased by many orders of magnitude the amounts of wastes and pollutants that have always existed, e.g., human refuse etc., but they have also generated a very wide variety of novel wastes and pollutants. The magnitude of this problem may be appreciated by the huge expenditure (879 and 1122 billion U.S. dollars respectively) required for waste management and for remedying other environmental problems in European Union and USA. The aim of biotechnology should be to develop such processes and products, which minimize the damage to the environment and at the same time, are compatible with a high quality of life.

Wastes may be gas, liquid or solid and may occur in a concentrated and localized or dilute and dispersed form. In addition, wastes may be biodegradable, recalcitrant or a mixture of both. Some recalcitrant components of wastes e.g., heavy metals, some man-made organic compounds, etc., may interfere with the biodegradation process by inhibiting microorganism growth. The various approaches to waste treatment may be grouped into the following five categories : (i) biofilters ( gases), (ii)landfill (solids), (iii)burning or incineration ( solids), (iv)aerobic digestion (liquid) and (v) anaerobic digestion (liquid).

Biotechnology has made several contributions to waste treatment and environmental management, the various categories of which are summarized below.

1. Technologies for degradation and conversion of readily biodegradable wastes

2. Cleaner technologies of production, which generate less number of pollutants and much lower pollution.

3. Safer products, which are far less polluting than their conventional alternatives, e.g., biofuels in place of fossil and/or nuclear fuels for energy production.

4. Sensitive and rapid detection techniques for a variety of pollutants; these techniques are generally based on either enzyme s or antibodies (biosensors, ELISA). These techniques permit a more effective environmental management.

5. Isolation and development of microorganism strains with novel capabilities of degradation of especially xenobiotic compounds.

A variety of microorganisms occur in aerobic digestion systems; these are (i) bacteria, (ii) protozoa, (iii) fungi, (iv) viruses, (v) cyanobacteria and (vi) algae. The phototrophic organisms like cyanobacteria and algae need light, and hence are absent from most parts of the treatment except on the surface of filter bed. As a result, their contribution to waste water treatment is rather limited. E.g., Zooglea ramifera, Beggiatoa, Salmonella, Nitrosomonas etc.

The anaerobic digestion process involves a wide variety of organisms of which bacteria are the most predominant. These microorganisms digest the organic molecules like lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, etc. into mainly methane and carbon dioxide. In addition, waste water containing sulphate and/or nitrate is also oxidized by microbes. E.g., Desulfovibrio
Waste management is now a very important factor for any country because of increasing population proper disposal is important. If this is avoided it will affect environment and create problem for human beings.
Waste Management is moving away from the directly processing of medical waste and instead rely on third-party providers of that work for customers who continue to seek that service. So its management very much is concerned with the proper utilization of resources.
Environmental Biotechnology provides effective and sustainable (from the economical, environmental and social point of view) tools and strategies for a) monitoring and reducing the risk to humans from contaminated sites and from the storage of municipal and industrial (bio)wastes; b) cleaning up and enabling the reuse of industrial wastewater (thus reducing the industrial use of natural water); c) turning biowaste with high environmental impact into biobased, biodegradable and biocompatible chemicals, materials and fuels, with a remarkable reduction of i) human risks associated with the biowaste disposal, ii) use of polluting fossil fuels or food crops for producing chemicals and fuels, and iii) CO2 production and climate change impacts.

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