Breaking Down Plastics

Scientists have trained certain species of fungi to digest waste materials like polypropylene face masks, plastic gloves, and sheet metal. Companies like Mycocycle are experimenting with bioreactors where fungi break down these materials in a controlled environment.

Cleaning Creosote-Soaked Soil

In northwest British Columbia, a project involving a local mushroom farm, Aurora Sporealis, is using fungi to break down creosote-soaked railway ties. Creosote, typically made with coal tar and infused with pesticides, is a challenging pollutant. The project is experimenting with various mushroom species like elm oyster mushroom, turkey tail fungus, artist conk, chicken of the woods fungi, and a wild oyster fungus native to the area to find the most effective species for breaking down creosote.

Filtering Contaminated Waterways in California

The Post-Fire Biofiltration Initiative in California involves placing fungi-packed wattles into contaminated waterways. These wattles, filled with straw and inoculated with fungi like oyster mushrooms, are used to intercept, filter out, and break down various chemicals from agricultural uses, including E. coli, nitrogen, phosphorous, and heavy metals.

Remediating Soil from Oil Spills in Central Wisconsin

At the Marathon County landfill, a pilot project is underway using mushrooms to clean soil contaminated by an oil spill. The project employs pearl oyster and Italian oyster mushrooms to break down petroleum-based contaminants in the soil. The mycelium of these mushrooms feeds on the organic compounds in petroleum, breaking them down effectively. The mushrooms involved in this process become nontoxic and can be composted back into the now-clean soil.

Repairing Soil After Wildfires in San Francisco Bay Area

In response to the increasing severity of wildfires, ecologists have begun using oyster mushrooms to repair soil that has been scorched. The mushrooms help break down toxic ash into bio-available compounds, aiding in soil recovery.

Preventing Water Contamination Post-Wildfires

In Sonoma County, California, after the 2017 North Bay wildfires, a coalition including fire remediation experts, local businesses, and ecological activists used over 40 miles of wattles inoculated with oyster mushroom spores for erosion control. These wattles were strategically placed to create channels diverting runoff away from threatened waterways, helping absorb toxins in the runoff water.