The widespread practice of using asbestos material in commercial and residential buildings during the 20th century has led to modern day concerns regarding safe removal and disposal in the 21st century. Traditional disposal methods (landfills) can lead to asbestos-contaminated soil - recent case studies conducted in industrialized countries and island nations found a high probability for ever-increasing amounts of asbestos-contaminated land, compounded by the continued production of asbestos, decreasing supply in land, and the cost of waste treatment. The case studies focused on the effectiveness of bioremediation through ecosystems in landfills, and provided evidence suggesting that natural treatment could be utilized to remove the carcinogenic-inducing chemical iron from asbestos. By introducing naturally occurring organisms (including certain fungi and lichen) to asbestos, the iron is degraded. Since the exact details of the degradation process are still being determined via case studies, there is insufficient data regarding degradation rates, but it has been demonstrated that fungi and lichens can remove iron from solid asbestos materials. The additional use of compatible plants as vegetation cover decreases asbestos fiber dispersion by colonizing asbestos veins and creating a “roof” which prevents the fibers from becoming airborne.
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