Biotechnology In environment Clean up Process - APPSC G1 Mains - Paper 4 - Section 2 - Unit 3 The term "Environment" is defined as our surroundings which includes the abiotic component (the non living) and biotic component (the living) around us. The abiotic environment includes water, air and soil while the biotic environment consists of all living organisms – plants, animals and microorganisms. Environmental pollution broadly refers to the presence of undesirable substances in the environment which are harmful to man and other organisms. In the past decade or two, there has been a significant increase in the levels of environmental pollution mostly due to direct or indirect human activities. The major sources of environmental pollution are –Industries, Agricultural sources (mainly rural area), anthropogenic sources (man related activities mainly in urban areas), biogenic sources etc. The pollutants are chemical, biological and physical in nature. The Chemical pollutants include- gaseous pollutants (hazardous gases like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide), toxic metals, pesticides, herbicides toxins and carcinogens Etc. The physical pollutants are- heat, sound, radiation, and radioactive substances. The pathogenic organisms and some poisonous and dangerous biological products are the biological pollutants.
Controlling the environmental pollution and the conservation of environment and biodiversity and controlling environmental pollution are the major focus areas of all the countries around the world. In this context the importance and impact of biotechnological approaches and the implications of biotechnology has to be thoroughly evaluated. There have been serious concerns regarding the use of biotechnology products and the impact assessment of these products due to their interaction with the environmental factors. A lobby of the environmentalists have expressed alarm on the release of genetically engineered organisms in the atmosphere and have stressed on thorough investigation and proper risk assessment of theses organisms before releasing them in to the environment. The effect of the effluents from biotechnological companies is also a cause of concern for everyone. The need of the hour is to have a proper debate on the safety of the use of the biotechnological products. The efforts are not only on to use biotechnology to protect the environment from pollutionbut also to use it to conserve the natural resources. As we all know that microorganisms are known natural scavengers so the microbial preparations (both natural as well as genetically engineered) can be used to clean up the environmental hazards. Development of alternate cleaner technologies using biotechnology Biotechnology is being used to provide alternative cleaner technologies which will help to further reduce the hazardous environmental implications of the traditional technologies. E.g. some Fermentation technologies have some serious environmental implications. Various biotechnological processes have been devised in which all nutrients introduced for fermentation are retained in the final product, which ensures high conversion efficiency and low environmental impact. In paper industry, the pulp bleaching technologies are being replaced by more environmentally friendly technologies involving biotechnology. The pulp processing helps to remove the lignin without damaging valuable cellulosic fibres but the available techniques suffer from the disadvantages of high costs, high energy use and corrosion. A lignin degrading and modifying enzyme (LDM) was isolated from Phanerochaete chrysosporum and was used, which on one hand, helped to reduce the energy costs and corrosion and on the other hand increased the life of the system. This approach helped in reducing the environmental hazards associated with bleach plant effluents. In Plastic industry, the conventional technologies use oil based raw materials to extract ethylene and propylene which are converted to alkene...
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