Humanity’s ability to access and manipulate metals was the keystone to our advancement from the Stone Age to today’s technologically advanced society. While this keystone drove technological innovation and societal development, it simultaneously resulted in unprecedented alterations of natural biogeochemical cycles and, arguably for the first time, affected the environment on a global scale. Indeed, paleopollution archaeology is a field of study devoted to evaluating this human impact by analyzing metal deposits in polar ice caps, bogs, and aquatic sediments to document and understand mining and smelting practices of ancient civilizations, such as the Roman Empire, as long as 2000 years ago (Nriagu, 1996). This analysis has shown that our utilization of metal resources is having local and global effects on human and environmental health. Practical, effective, and economical remediation technologies are needed to address large-scale metal contamination; microbially produced surfactants (biosurfactants) meet these requirements, and may be the basis for developing green remediation technologies. The goal of this chapter is to provide a brief introduction of metals and environmental metal contamination, followed by an in-depth examination of metal interactions with biosurfactants. The chapter will conclude with a discussion of potential remediation techniques and technologies based on metal-biosurfactant interactions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Materials Science(all)