Worms Remove Toxic Metals from Soil

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21st October 2014

Researchers in India have discovered that certain worms can extract heavy metals cadmium, copper, lead, manganese and zinc from the soil.

Swati Pattnaik and M Vikram Reddy of Pondicherry University in India found that specific species of earthworm, namely Eudrilus eugeniae, Eisena fetida, and Perionyx excavates can be used to assist in the composting and cleaning of urban waste.

worms remove toxic metals, image

There is a growing problem of how to manage waste in the world and the process of vermicomposting in this way may help in solving such problems. It allows organic waste to be remediated and the compost used subsequently for growing human food without the risk of accumulating heavy metals in the crops, the researchers state.

The team's tests show that the heavy metal content of such waste can be reduced to levels significantly below the permissible safe limits.

The heavy metal ions are not broken down, however, but stored in the worms' tissues.

Yet, the benefits of vermicomposting go beyond just toxic metal removal: Ken Rohla explains that worms also put probiotics in the soil utilising a 'quantum process' in their guts. The probiotics then break the soil down further, producing microclustered nutrients that can be taken up by the plants and utilized by the human body. Read more here.


Science Daily: "Bioremediation of Toxic Metals Using Worms: Earthworms Soak Up Heavy Metal"

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