1. How do I know your microbes are safe for people, animals and plants?
All of our products are 100% natural and safe for use around humans, animals and plants, both aquatic and on land. Third party testing companies have reported our products to be non-pathogenic and non-toxic. They are not genetically modified.
Our products are listed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA’s) National Contingency Plan Product Schedule (NCPPS). Our microbe consortium is also listed with several of the state levels of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Because we are classified as an industrial product we are required to provide a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). This form outlines the pertinent product safety information (e.g. physical data, toxicity, health effects, first aid, storage, disposal and protective measures.)
Our microbes are 100% naturally-occurring and will not mutate into pathogenic life-forms. They will not convert any materials other than hydrocarbons. Intensive tests have shown no toxic side effects. As a matter of fact, by-products produced by these microbes are used as a food or energy source by higher organisms.
2. Are the beneficial microbes you use genetically modified?
No. Our microbes are 100% natural, and not genetically altered or modified.
3. Is bioremediation approved by the EPA?
According to EPA Publication 640/k-93/002: "The United States is the world leader in field implementation of bioremediation, an attractive alternative to conventional methods of cleaning up persistent hazardous wastes in the environment." It further states, "The potential use of bioremediation technologies is significant, as federal & state governments, private industry and others responsible for environmental cleanup efforts add it to their arsenals of methods for environmental reclamation." The archaea formula Akaya uses has been listed on the U.S. EPA National Contingency Product Plan Schedule since 1991.
4. What is so important about being listed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Contingency Plan Product Schedule (NCPPS)?
While this listing does not mean that the EPA approves, recommends, licenses, certifies, or authorizes the use of the Akaya microbes or any other product on an oil discharge, this listing does mean a very stringent application process has been completed and accepted by the EPA as required by subpart J of the National Contingency Plan, Sec. 300.915. This listing allows the Federal On Scene Commander to authorize the use of the microbe formula in a spill situation.
5. What kind of microbes are in the MicroSorb products?
Our products contain microbes of the Domain Archaea. Archaea are at the beginning of the tree of life which also includes two other branches: bacteria and eukaryotes. Our archaea-based formula contains more than 100 strains of microbes which form a consortium. This consortium results in a highly concentrated blend of naturally occurring hydrocarbon and oil degrading microbes that work more efficiently and effectively together than as separate strains.
6. Why are your products superior to the other bioremediation products available?
There are quite a number of reasons, with some being more critical, depending on the specific project application. For example, most other bioremediation methods are based on bacteria, enzymes, and/or fungi, which usually work under narrow conditions and will only work on one specific contaminant. Whereas the archaea microbes that MicroSorb uses are more primitive and can tolerate much harsher environmental conditions and degrade a variety of hydrocarbons.
Our consortium consists of more than 100 different types of archaea, and a big reason for their success and effectiveness is that they work together as a team. Our microbes have been tested against all of the other products on the National Contingency Plan Product Schedule (NCPPS) and came out on top by far for efficacy, especially in degrading the difficult-to-treat polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Some of the teamwork also is with bacteria, achieving degradation of pollutants that would not be possible with bacteria alone, or just archaea.
The concentration, density and strength of our product usually is far superior as well, at 100 billion microbes per gm/ml, which can be a key factor in both the effectiveness and the speed of remediation results. Because our product is shipped and stored dry, you also gain significant cost savings compared to shipping diluted powders or liquids.
MicroSorb's product arrives ready to use -- no careful measuring and mixing and waiting periods are needed -- and usually there's no expensive special equipment needed to deploy it, either.
7. How long do the microbes work and what happens when they die?
The archaea microbes, once activated, will continue to work for typically about three months. Under good conditions the microbes will really thrive, doubling in number every 20 minutes. After three months they will begin to die-off and their cell structures will break apart and release the nutrients back into the earth for other microbes and organisms to use. The area being treated will return to former natural levels and indigenous types of microbes.
8. Are your products like probiotics for the environment? Probiotics for water? Probiotics for soil?
They are. Archaea are found naturally everywhere in the world -- including on and in ourselves. The average human hosts about 3 pounds of beneficial microbes which aid in our natural human processes. There is ongoing research linking beneficial microbes with the reversal of disease (imbalanced) states in the human body which is similar to the process of healing environmental toxicities. It all boils down to balance. Our bodies and our environment need relative homeostasis to maintain optimum health. Beneficial microbes (probiotics) help restore and maintain this balance. Our products, however, are not meant for human consumption and are specifically cultivated for hydrocarbon remediation (sewage, petroleum, industrial waste, etc.).
9. What is the application method? How does one use the microbe product?
Application would depend on where the contamination occurs, what exactly the contaminants are (sewage, fuel, PAHs, etc.), how much area it covers, how deep or dense, plus intricacies including is it a sensitive (conservation) area, etc. Generally speaking:
1) For application on coastline, marshes, swamps, wetlands and land it can be applied by mixing with water or saltwater and spraying it on, or it can be broadcast dry through typical equipment commonly used for other dry powder application purposes. The archaea formula will not harm or foul that type of agricultural or industrial equipment.
And there is no requirement for heavy equipment - because many of the areas in question are sensitive, delicate conservation land which already has been devastated from the contamination. We cause no extra harm from the actual process of application which is another reason why our microbes are so effective. Extra sensitive and difficult-to-reach areas like mangroves are especially suited to our bioremediation approach. Same goes for rocky coastlines, deep crevices etc.
For applications where the soil can be penetrated or worked, tilling can be done to accelerate the process if the contamination runs deeper. But as long as the microbes are in contact with the hydrocarbons, the archaea will follow the contamination underground.
2) For waterways/open water, we apply typically from boats or barges. In large scale response incidents, large numbers of workers easily can be trained for the relatively simple task of mixing and spraying the product, using common, readily available equipment.
And for submerged oils we have a proprietary method developed to effectively deliver the microbes to deepwater via a specially designed barge. Submerged oils are one of the major fallouts from oil spills - this problem threatens the aquatic environment for decades or longer. It's a hot topic (especially in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon spill) as no one is addressing it effectively -- but we can.
10. If you put it in running water does it get washed away? How would you use it in a river or underground flow or for a pipeline?
Depending on the velocity of the running water, yes microbes could be washed away, but if the pollutants are being carried by the currents as well, that’s a very good thing, since the microbes will follow the contamination, and remediate it along the way. This is something we would determine on a case by case basis. And also, the possibility of designing a system to treat the water at certain points along the flow could be investigated, as well as mixing in microbes at the source of the pollution, if it is ongoing.
11. Are there different applications for pipelines spills and pipeline contaminated installations?
Yes microbes can very effectively treat around pipelines for leaks at junctions or pipeline bedding that’s contaminated, etc. These are common, high-need uses of the Akaya product. In North America alone, the number of aging, failing pipelines is exponentially on the rise, sewerage, petroleum pipelines, and storm drains. The resultant spills regularly are making headlines now.
12. Can we use it in our sewage treatment plants and effluent treatment plants, as well as our lakes and rivers? What about for E. coli and fecal coliform?
Yes. Using the archaea formula for sewage treatment and spills is a most effective (and cost-effective) way of wastewater treatment. You've touched on a sweet spot of how we help municipalities. Affordably providing the means for 'clean water' around the world is a mission of ours. In the case of raw sewage dumps, the consortium, when applied appropriately, will address the odors, the biosolids and the particulate contaminants, and it also will reduce or eliminate pathogens like
E. coli and fecal coliform.
13. Can it remove odors from water and soil?
Yes. It very effectively removes odors from water and soils. We use the microbes in waste water treatment facilities, septic systems, etc. They are effective on animal wastes - zoos use it in their animal environments and treatment facilities. We know yacht owners who use the microbes in the boats’ bilges, the boats’ heads (aka the onboard toilet facilities, W/C) and on seagull droppings! The microbes speed up the breakdown of solids but also feast on odor-causing ammonia and other off-gassing substances. Odor elimination is right up there with contaminant elimination as primary reasons for use.
14. Does your product just mask the odors?
There is no such thing as 'masking the odor' with bioremediation. The whole point is to remediate the contamination at the molecular level, so that the contaminants no longer exist, and the volatized contaminants then no longer exist either.
15. With other products we’ve used, the odors come back later, and/or there still is plenty of evidence visually that the pollution is still there. Why should our experience with yours be any different?
Much of what is done conventionally and traditionally to 'clean' contamination is simply doing it to a level that people can no longer detect. The area might ‘look’ or ‘smell’ clean, but at the molecular level the contaminants are still right there. Or maybe they have been dispersed more deeply, or broadcast more widely. But the carcinogens still exist; the risk to life still exists.
Clearly, if there is an ongoing source of new contamination or odor-generating waste, then maintenance application of new microbes will need to be done to keep up with the generation of the source waste. The main point of biorestoration with our microbes is to remediate the contamination at the molecular level, so that the contaminants no longer exist, leaving only byproducts like carbon, carbon dioxide and lipids, which are fatty acids eaten by fish as food or used as energy by plants.
16. Can it be used for riverfront areas and ponds and lakes for treating algae?
Yes, we currently treat for algae very effectively. The key is to treat before the blooms begin – for example in springtime, or after a major new influx that will trigger imbalance of the prior ecosystem of the water. Some algae species may be resistant to treatment so we typically apply a test-treatment to determine an appropriate full treatment plan.
17. How does it get used to attack, treat, and prevent algae?
It essentially is the principle behind how microbes work in any ecosystem, including our human bodies. You need to keep the balance in check of good microbes versus bad microbes. Our beneficial microbes crowd out the opportunistic microbes. Mother Nature has this all figured out, but she can't keep up with the onslaught of disruptors that humans are adding to the system and which tip the balance. By supplementing with extra beneficial microbes we can help natural processes keep up. Kind of like probiotics for the earth, or a boost of extra supplements a human might take when we’re sick.
18. Algae, sewage, oil, chemicals, germs and bacteria – can they all be treated?
Yes and no. Our formula is ideally targeted to sewage, septic waste, oil, fuels and lubricants (non-synthetic), petroleum hydrocarbons (PAHs etc.), chlorinated solvents (PCE, TCE, etc.), organic-based herbicides and pesticides, chemical dispersants, surfactants, grease traps, lift stations, animal waste/urine/ammonia, pulp by-products, algae – all such pollutants and places those contaminants are found, which also allows the beneficial microbes to cut-off or outcompete many of the germs and pathogens, such as e-coli and coliform bacteria, that otherwise would feed on the contaminants.
With regard to bacteria etc., the microbes are not a direct "-cide" (ex. bactericide, herbicide etc.) in that they do not kill the bacteria directly. This also is a very significant benefit, as our microbes will not kill indigenous beneficial microbes. Use of our archaea microbes fosters balance in the ecosystem rather that creating distortions and imbalance. It's the same idea as what antibiotic exposure does to human bodies, killing off good bacteria along with the harmful bacteria. Our microbes simply crowd out the contaminating pollutants by overtaking their food source so they die-off or are eliminated naturally. At the end of their lifespan, our archaea die too, and the area being treated will return to former natural levels of locally indigenous microbes, with balance restored.
19. What is the measurement for dosage or application?
It will vary according to the specific situation. As a typical example for remediation of surface soils, 10 pounds (5Kg) will treat 100 square meters. If you are treating cubic yards of contaminated soils (soil pile) 1Kg (roughly 2 pounds) typically will treat 2 cubic meters (roughly 1 cubic yard). For marshes and wetlands, it can be typically 1 lb of microbe formula mixed with 50 gals of water or seawater and sprayed on 200 square feet. For open water application such as lakes or oceans, 1,000 lbs can treat 1 square mile, with higher concentration applied in focused applications on sheens. (For more information, see “What is the application method” notes above.)
20. What application dosage is appropriate for stagnant water or water tanks?
A typical benchmark or starting point is 1 lb per 200 cubic feet, but that is adjusted according to the specifics of the situation, such as type and concentrations of pollutants, existence of solids and/or vegetation, etc.
21. Are there different formulations of the product, and different pricing for those?
Yes, there are three different strengths. Depending on the application specifics, sometimes the microbes should be supplemented with nutrients or biocatalysts as well. We will help you match the right products to what your specific situation requires.
22. How do I store the inactivated product and what is the shelf life of the microbe powder?
The archaea microbes in their powder form, before they are activated, have a shelf life of 5 years. This is much longer than many competing products.
23. How are the microbes manufactured?
Because microbes are living beings they are not manufactured but instead are grown or cultivated. They are cultured from indigenous oil-rich environments and also extreme conditions such as perimeters of volcanos and hot springs which make them particularly hardy. They are then grown under careful, monitored conditions so as to provide the most hospitable environment for reproduction. Under the right conditions, the microbes will double in number every 20 minutes. The microbes then go through a proprietary natural drying process to suspend them in a semi-dormant state. This process, unlike freeze-drying which can destroy 50% or more of the microbes, maintains the numbers and integrity of the microbes. MicroSorb's final product is much higher (100 billion microbes per gm/ml ) in concentration and strength than many competing products.
24. From what is your product made?
Our product consists of three ingredients: the archaea microbe consortium, a natural carrier, and a very small amount of crude oil (as a food source which keeps microbes alive in their semi-dormant state until activated.)
25. Why does the product smell a bit like oil?
The microbes used in our products were raised on a crude oil diet to ensure that they will always be adapted to destroy hydrocarbon contamination (sewage, petroleum, etc.). A bit of the crude oil is added to the microbes to keep them alive in their semi-dormant state.
26. Do the microbes need special treatment?
Microbes need oxygen, water, and nutrients to survive. Their nutrients come from food sources such as oil, natural waters and even air. There is a food source (crude oil) included in the powdered product that will allow the microbes to survive in the inactivated, semi-dormant state. Once activated by water, the microbes will feed on the organic compounds available. Our microbes need oxygen levels at least 1ppm. Once activated, the microbes must continue to stay wet and do best in temperatures between 40-100 degrees F, but can tolerate and be effective in temperatures from 30-130 degrees F (-1 to 54 degrees C). They are highly salt tolerant up to 25% salinity, and prefer a pH range of 5.5-10. Outside of these parameters, the microbes will either slow in activity or cease activity altogether which will slow or compromise bioremediation processes.
27. Can you provide us with demo videos, case studies and laboratory data on prior applications and uses?
Yes, we have quite a bit of that type of material on file. Please contact us, and we would be happy to share it according to your interests and needs.
28. Besides the beneficial microbe formula, is there anything else we will have to pay for?
For many simple and straight forward remediation uses, the answer is no. You simply can order the product or consult with us on selection of the product, and you can take it from there.
For complex or unusual venues or contaminants, clients often want assistance in assessing the scope and specifics of the problem, as well as formulating the strategy on how best to approach the application and restoration. In that case, further costs would be incurred for engineering consulting time to get the client up and running on doing their own application and maintenance.
Alternatively, we obviously can do complete project management for you, responding, containing, planning and completing the bioremediation application and restoration of water and soil.
Either way, the costs associated with our methods of biorestoration are a fraction of traditional clean-up expenses, and those other methods are not even truly cleaning up the problem. Our microbes perform at the molecular level, removing toxicity permanently and completely. So who knows how exorbitant the true long-term costs would be of alternative methods, or even how one could calculate them. (You can’t, really, since the impacts of insufficient clean-up are ongoing and create corollary damages).
29. Is there anything the archaea microbes are not effective on? Are you going to tell us to apply your product no matter what contamination we have?
No, we would not attempt to treat an untreatable situation. That would not be to your benefit or ours. For example, our consortium has not proven effective on heavy metals such as mercury or lead, and we do not use them for radionuclides such as uranium, cesium, strontium or plutonium. The microbes also do not work on synthetic oil the way they do so effectively for conventional oil and petroleum products. Those elements are outside of our current scope, but we also are very skilled at determining when we need to work in tandem with contractors having those other areas of expertise and remediation and disposal capability. We also quite commonly use and work alongside traditional clean-up methods being employed, as our beneficial microbes complement the effectiveness of a wide variety of other methods.
And in the case of very large spills even of contaminants that are ideal for our microbes, such as sewage and petroleum, the microbes will not be able to keep up with large ongoing flows, or deep existing layers of contaminant, so we would need to work with traditional methods such as booms, absorbents, and vacuums to get the ‘heavy stuff,’ and the microbes would come in 'to finish off the job.'
Our success will continue to depend on the success of our projects. So we only would set ourselves up for a successful outcome. We want you to achieve very positive and very significant results.
30. What if I have a question I don't see answered here?
Please contact us with any questions you have.
soil bioremediation, water bioremediation, sewage bioremediation and environmental restoration
NCPPL bioremediation products
Probiotics for the environment
EColi in water
Fungus in animal bedding
Treating e coli and fecal coliform bacteria in sewage
MicroSorb provides the best performing bioremediation product on the EPA’s National Contingency Plan Product Schedule (NCPPS), and an engineering team with decades of application experience and success.