Biodeterioration has been stated as being deterioration of materials by economic significance by organisms. While this definition surely embraces several phenomena that we recognize as biodeterioration, it prohibits some that should logically be comprised as the suitable method of study and control are in principle the same as those regarded with deterioration of materials. To contain these other phenomena we should add to materials the words processes or activities and also constructions. The important feature that these phenomena have in common is fact that causative agent is, in each case, living organism so that methods of study and control are those suitable to organisms.
The significance of biological causation:
Decay of wood by organisms, the form of biodeterioration, can be countered by, for instance, lowering the water activity, exclusion of the organisms, exclusion of oxygen, or by use of very little quantities of specific substances called as biocides.
Three following examples will serve to emphasis the significance of common factor of causation by organisms. Birds may cause the severe nuisance and pollution in the food factory. Biocides themselves, and also any predators, may cause serious contamination of premises. The similar degree of nuisance and pollution might be caused in same premises by smoke or fumes from the chemical works, or even from firm's own heating system.
Damage and loss of value may be caused to the shipments of grains by infestation with insects. Damage intimately parallel in value and extent could take place in another shipment by physical contamination with coal, glass, or other physical impurity that is hard to separate from grain. In the former example, counter measure will comprise recognition of insect concerned, so that its habits and physiology may be identified from literature records, manipulation of water activity and/or temperature, and maybe cautious use of biocides, considering limitations that are imposed by the fact that grain is to be used as food. To conquer physical contamination problem, engineering methods are utilized to generate sophisticated separating machines. These three examples may be multiplied several times, and in every example common factors in biological problems are:
1. The need to understand biology of causative organism (or the group to which it belongs),
2. To influence physical conditions,
3. To exclude entry, and
4. To use biocides with due regard to possible contamination of the environment or of material being protected.
The word deterioration involve that there has being some loss of economic value. That is, from the human standpoint, action is negative. Such deterioration may be caused by mechanical action, where on organism removes or distorts the material or construction; or by chemical action where the organism incorporates at the molecular level all or parts of the material, generally as the foodstuff for itself, or dissimilates at the molecular level, substances whose presence deteriorates the material or construction. But additionally, there may be soiling, or fouling, where presence of the organism, or parts of the organism cause aesthetic damage or loss of function or value.
Materials are generally stated as being dead. But from biodeterioration viewpoint, some materials are supposed to be dead, even if they are technical living (like grains and tubers) if their viability is of no concern efficiently. In pathology, living organisms attack other living organisms; but in biodeterioration, they attack materials that may be organisms, or parts of organisms, that were once living. Amusingly there is not always in practice, clear boundary between pathology and biodeterioration. Therefore the organism that attacks the crop before harvesting may well carry on to damage crop after harvest. When viability is not significant, it is correctly biodeteriogen. Distinction between grains, tubers, and similar resting plant stages that depends on intended use has practical value. Blurred boundary between pathology and biodeterioration exists also when the food approaches consumption. Here, though, boundary is not between pathology of the plant and biodeterioration of its product, but between potential pathology of the consumer of the food and its biodeterioration.
Construction is the significant word in definition of biodeterioration as proper operation of constructions in the widest sense is of great significance to human beings and this may be damaged by living organisms rather apart from effects on materials of which they are made up of. The kind of damage is generally distorting, blocking, defiling or disfiguring; it ranges from total inhibition of function, as when the filter is blocked, to simply aesthetic damage as when the building is disfigured by fungal or algal growth. The methods for control of this kind of biodeterioration are same as those suitable for control of damage to materials. Processes or activities may be hindered with by organisms in ways strongly associated to their effect on constructions as, for instance, when activity of playing tennis is interfered with by weeds growing in the tennis court.
Biodeterioration is the concept that depends on man's economy. But study of biology, and of science of materials, can both exist without reference to man's economy. Thus we can view deterioration as the area in biosphere stated exclusively in terms of needs of human beings. Viewed in this way, biodeterioration is merely that part of complete world cycling procedure that man wants to be temporarily arrested, or removed from the experience. Surplus or redundant materials are best disposed of, i.e., degraded, by biological agencies that are generally cheap and almost automatic, and they have some merit in keeping several molecules intact rather than total mineralization that results from burning.
Therefore arises the term biodegradation. It is biologically exactly the same procedure as biodeterioration, but it is positive from man's viewpoint as outcome is desired. It is particularly desirable when material disposed of is a dangerous waste that would otherwise have had harmful effects on environment. Those who have the liability for making sure that these wastes don't linger in environment welcome biodegradation as their ally. Safe use of biologically active and dangerous molecules like those of biocides, and in the less degree, those of unwanted molecules like detergents, depends extremely largely on biodegradation of these molecules in environment. Biodegradability of such molecules is the significant condition of safety in use. Those with the concern for the environment welcome biodegradable forms of products.
Biodeterioration is the process which decreases value; biodegradation is one that improves it. Thus, it is generally materials, process or constructions of reasonably high value that will attract attention when they are subjected to biodeterioration and subsequent loss of value. Materials of low or negative value are obvious candidates for biodegradation and subsequent value improvement. Thus, degrading of straw given it is a waste (that is of negative value) is the process that rids farm of unnecessary bulk and thus increases net value even if there is no product. Biodegradation in this example becomes the procedure of bioenhancement. This is not unusual; there are several cases when biological disposal of one material can yield the more costly product. But biodegradation to improve value can take place higher up value scale like, for instance, when the flax plant is selectively degraded to yield isolated fibers in procedure called as retting. Conventional use therefore confines term biodegradation to those cases where original material is of comparatively low or negative value and there is the element of disposal in process.
The term appears etymologically unsuitable as degradation' doesn't appear to be compatible with value improvement. The term was coined before the improvement aspects of process were clearly identified. Degradation in this context refers to breakdown of complex molecules to generally smaller and simpler ones, the original complex molecules being frequently environmentally objectionable. Use of the term as now conservatively extended and restricted, is to be welcomed as it states valuable and realistic concept. Biodegradation is at times explained as the process of harnessing the degradative powers of microorganisms to attain desirable objectives. Much effort is devoted to design and production of biodegradable substances. These are substance that when they become wastes are able to be degraded by typical organisms, and in typical conditions of environment.
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