Can Fungi Clean Up a Superfund Site?
Between the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens is a broad creek tainted by 150 years of pollution. It has received toxins from the petrochemical plants, fertilizer factories and other industries that once flourished along its banks. Oil seeps into it from a 50-acre underground spill nearby. And when heavy rains flood the city’s sewer system, raw sewage pours into the water.
The Environmental Protection Agency designated the creek a Superfund site in 2010, triggering a lengthy evaluation and cleanup process. In the meantime, however, a local group has begun experimenting with an innovative technique to break down contaminants in the water. The key: a fungus more widely known to taste good in stir fry.