The global use of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) such as Kepone, Lindane, DDT, Dieldrin, Chlordane, and Toxaphene has resulted in long-term soil impacts at many sites. Given the potential risks to human health and the environment, some OCP-impacted sites require treatment. In certain cases, the “dig-and-dump” approach is not practical due to magnitude of the problem, access issues, and/or resource constraints.
Here, “bioremediation” can be used to treat the soil on site, often at lower costs, and certainly with lower generation of greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, most OCPs are not amenable to conventional bioremediation technologies, hence they persist over time.
Use of the insecticide Kepone on banana plantations until the mid-1990’s in the French West Indies islands has led to major environmental impacts. These include damage to drinking water supplies, bans on vegetables, fish and sea food consumption and commercialization, and increased occurrence of prostate cancer in Guadeloupe. Kepone is widely considered as an extremely persistent neurotoxic organochlorine insecticide, with no evidence of environmental attenuation. Natural, very slow leaching from the impacted soils to the water compartment will take centuries to significantly reduce current Kepone soil concentrations. The study presented here was financed by the French Ministry of Environment.