According to Cornell University, bioremediation is the use of biological organisms to help clean contaminated or polluted environmental sites, such as the site of an oil spill. In nature, many biological organisms contribute to the cleanup of pollutants through a process called biodegradation. Bioremediation encourages that natural process, as it employs biological organisms to solve environmental problems.
According to Wikipedia, bioremediation includes phytoremediation, which uses plants to reduce and remove pollutants, and bioventing, which enhances the activity of microorganisms by increasing the flow of oxygen. Other examples of bioremediation include bioleaching, landfarming, composting, bioaugmentation, rhizofiltration and biostimulation.
Wikipedia explains that bioremediation uses naturally occurring organisms to break down hazardous substances into less hazardous substances. Bioremediation may occur on its own, or may only effectively occur through purposeful intervention. Cornell University states that bioremediation provides techniques for cleaning pollution that may be safer and more cost effective than alternative solutions, such as incineration of contaminated materials or landfills to contain hazardous waste .
Bioremediation often involves ways to enhance the growth of pollution-eating microbes which already exist at the contamination sites; however, sometimes specialized microbes are added to degrade the contaminants. Both of these methods have the advantage of not requiring large quantities of soil, sediment or water to be removed or relocated before it can be treated.