BACKGROUND: Beach closings due to contamination are becoming more and more of a problem every year, thanks to issues of sewage and storm runoffs. Instead of closing the beaches, why not clean up the water? A new technology not only removes pollutants from water, it also destroys bacteria that can cause illness.
THE PROBLEM: A recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that 85 percent of the beach closings and health advisory days were caused by dangerously high levels of bacterial found in human or animal waste. The NRDC has urged the Environmental Protection Agency to tighten controls over sewer overflows and stormwater discharges to help ensure that states and municipalities monitor water quality and notify the public when it does not meet bacterial standards.
THE SOLUTION: Smart Sponge Plus is a spongelike material that resembles popcorn and can be used to remove hydrocarbons, oil grease and other toxins in water. It also contains an antimicrobial agent to combat common bacteria such as E. coli and fecal coliform. Unlike other antimicrobials that poison harmful microorganisms, the Smart Sponge Plus ruptures the cell membranes, preventing the microorganisms from functioning or reproducing. It can also transform hydrocarbon pollutants into a stable solid for easy recycling. The Smart Sponge can be inserted directly into storm drains, so there is no need to break up roads, build vaults or create ponds. This makes it easier, cheaper and faster to use than other environmental remediation techniques. Smart Sponge Plus is currently being implemented in Rhode Island and Los Angeles.
ABOUT ANTIMICROBIALS: Antimicrobials describe both natural and synthetic substances, including antibiotics and disinfectants, that can kill or slow down the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. Sometimes microorganisms can develop a resistance over time to an antimicrobial substance, however, so that it is no longer an effective deterrent. Naturally occurring alternatives could help address this problem.