from the BBC

In Cleveland, mushrooms digest entire houses: How fungi can be used to clean up pollution

By Nick Hilden

(Credit: Getty Images)

In the struggle to combat pollution and fight climate change, a growing number of scientists are beginning to look to one of nature’s oldest biotechnologies: fungi.

The city of Cleveland faces an epidemic of abandoned houses. Crumbling homes number in the thousands. These ramshackle structures are riddled with toxins like lead and dilapidated to the point of no return. And if tearing down and safely disposing of the waste of one such home sounds daunting, imagine thousands of them.

Among the numerous issues that arise, one essential question involves waste. What do you do with the waste material from so many teardown structures, when so much of it is toxic?

“All of the material from demolition – the studs, the floors, cellulosic mass [the primary structural component of plants], and even things like ceiling tiles and asphalt material like roof shingles, can be mixed into substrate that then becomes good for growing fungus,” says Chris Maurer, founder of Cleveland-based architect firm Redhouse Studio. Through his firm, Maurer has been advocating for the use of substrate to address Cleveland’s housing crisis, which is also a health crisis for the city’s inhabitants. 

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