The Alaskan Pollock widely used in fast-food fish sandwiches will now be used to neutralize toxic lead in residential yards reports, the New York Times.
According to Victor R Johnson, an engineer with Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc., the calcium phosphate from the fish bones would degrade and migrate into the soil. The lead in the soil would then bind with the phosphate and transform into pyromorphite, a crystalline mineral that is not harmful even if consumed.
Lead contamination is a widespread problem in America, especially in urban areas where there was heavy car traffic states the report. The lead in the soil came from the time when car exhausts used leaded gasoline and from lead-based paint residue.
Lead poisoning has very harmful effects and is toxic to many organs and tissues like the heart, bones, kidneys, and nervous systems. It is particularly toxic to children, causing potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders. According to right health.com more than 4 percent of children in the United States have lead poisoning with rates of lead poisoning higher in large cities and among people with low incomes.
To redress this issue Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) officials have started to reduce lead contamination in Oakland, California's South Prescott neighborhood by roto-tilling the soil with a paste of fishbone meal states the report. The method is more cost effective than removing and replacing contaminated soil and has been used in military bases, acrid-mine sites, Universities and commercial laboratories. South Prescott will become the first residential neighborhood this month to use fish bone meal to reduce lead contamination.
It's fair to say, looking forward, that just about every urban residential area probably has a lead problem and we just can't afford economically and socially to move that amount of dirt any more, said Steve Calanog, the E.P.A. official in the San Francisco office that is overseeing the project in South Prescott stated the New York Times report. Topsoil is a precious resource, and we don't have enough topsoil to replace it.
The fishbone method appealed to everyone more than the idea of the heavy construction associated with soil removal, or the unpleasant notion of taking and dumping the toxic soil on another community, added Mr. Calanog .
The project has an estimated cost of $4 million over two years and will train up to 75 workers, many previously unemployed, in toxic cleanup methods, added the report.