Humic substances are the major components of all natural organic matter found in soil and water. Commercial humic substances are used for the remediation of our precious environmental resources because of their ability to interact with all components of natural ecosystems. They enhance the detoxifying capacity of ecosystems through biostimulation of microbes and deactivation of toxins.
In natural systems, humic substances interact with microbial communities, dissolved natural organic matter, clays, and minerals to inactivate and degrade human-made synthetic toxins (pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons, petroleum) and deactivate toxic metals (arsenic, mercury, cadmium).
The interactions of humic substances with toxic pollutants mainly consist of absorption, binding, association, sequestration and entrapment of the toxic molecule by the massive humic molecules. The microbial degradation process of synthetic organic molecules may be further enhanced by catalytic effects and increased sensitivity of toxic hydrocarbons to breakdown by sunlight.