In the spring of 2012 TM&A submitted a proposal to myco-remediate an old industrial building in downtown Brattleboro with an innovative technique using fungus. Working with David Demarest of Green Mountain Mycosystems, we approached the New England Youth Theater which owns the contaminated industrial brick building at 64 Elm Street.

Trametes versicolor (turkey tail)

(False) Turkey Tail

The approach that we proposed was to do a number of myco-remediation research trials on the specific contaminants present —  PCB’s (Aroclor 1254) polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  Once the most effective remediating species was identified, contaminants would either be completely remediated by the fungus, resulting in end products of carbon dioxide and water, or bioaccumulated and disposed of appropriately.  The species of fungus proposed for initial development included Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor), Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) and White Rot Fungus (Phanerochaete chrysosporium), all of which have a track record for remediating the contaminants involved.

Oyster Mushroom

Oyster Mushroom

Unfortunately NEYT, in collaboration with the New England Center for Circus Arts, had/has an accelerated timeline for developing the property.  This timeline, combined with the experimental nature of the project and a lack of time to search for funding for such an innovative and alternative technology, led NEYT to pursue more conventional routes to remediate the building, namely transporting the contaminated parts of the structure and grounds to a hazardous waste landfill in Central New York State.

White Rot Fungus

White Rot Fungus

Even though this proposal was not embraced, we believe that this technology has tremendous potential for remediating the thousands of contaminated buildings throughout the Northeastern United States.  This particular adaptation of ecological engineering could prove to be not only much cheaper than conventional remediation, but also has the potential to leave the shell of the building intact and able to be restored.  If this proves to be true these historic buildings, many of which are quite beautiful, can be saved and resurrected for use in perpetuity.

The proposal can be downloaded here:

Mycology-Based Remediation: Supplemental Option for a Corrective Action Plan