Project no. 132
Recycling Dead Skin Cells and Organs
Z. O. OBANIBGA
Theoretical Physics with Mathematics, Lancaster University
With the world’s population expected to reach 11.2 billion people by 21001, additional use of
arable land and humus is needed to support the expanded population. Artificial fertilisers are
used to combat this problem, but they can have harmful effects on the consumers of the
crop, leading to conditions like methemoglobinemia. Since we are limited by the terrain on
Earth, devising new ways of introducing essential nutrients into less fertile land will allay
some of this pressure.
The average human being sheds approximately 8lbs of skin annually. With a global
population of around 7.5 billion people, that amounts to 60 billion pounds of skin shed every
year. This dead skin consists of keratinocytes, cells that are comprised of a structural fibrous
protein called keratin, formed at the base of the epidermis. The cells progressively move up
through the various layers of skin until they reach the outer surface, where they die, forming
the stratum corneum. The cells then detach themselves from the surface of the skin and end
up in mattresses and around the house. Vacuums suck up these cells and the lint inside
these vacuums is thrown away.
Pathological waste in hospitals consisting of amputated tissues, organs and other body parts
is incinerated and similarly discarded.
METHOD TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM
A system can be devised to collect these materials, much like recycling plastic bottles and
cardboard. The waste can be integrated into the soil much like a synthetic fertilizer. The
appropriate levels of fungi, bacteria and microorganisms are already present within the soil
so by manipulating already pre-existing, natural methods of decomposition, this can be done
at no significant cost with lower risk of eutrophication.
This will require no more effort than ordinary recycling for hospitals and homeowners,
making it a perfectly feasible solution for the problem.
1. UN DESA | United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2018).
World population projected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100 |
UN DESA | United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. [online]
Available at: https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/worldpopulation
prospects-2017.html [Accessed 11 May 2018].