If a person were to put bowls of activated charcoal around the house, I would assume that it would have to be replaced regularly, what do you think? Yes, but 'how regularly' is the question. We know the adsorptive capabilities diminish as the charcoal 'fills up' (and certain chemicals/metals seem to diminish the adsorption strength faster). Yet anecdotally, a charcoal filter for tap water only needs to be replaced every few months (???). If I lived near the spill, I'd likely put about 1 cup of the charcoal in every room, stir it every day (thinking: the charcoal on the top would be 'filled up' faster than the charcoal at the bottom of the bowl) - and then change it once a week. As usual, it's too bad those that fund researchers are only interested in funding that upon which they can profit financially (or we'd likely all know, or easily be able to find, the answer). sigh
Also disposal might be a problem, the last thing anyone would want it to add the benzene back into the environment, to contaminate somewhere else. (another answer that should be easy to find...perhaps someone else knows). Once substances like charcoal & bentonite pull toxins/metals to themselves, do the toxins/metals ever 'come out' of the charcoal/bentonite? Can it be safely disposed of simply by burying it? Or would the toxins/metals eventually 'break away' from the charcoal/bentonite to leach back into the environment? And if they did leach back into the environment, would they still be in their original (toxic) form?
Also...although I don't know if I would do this 'for internal use', it's supposedly very easy & inexpensive to make large quantities of activated charcoal. http://www.buyactivatedcharcoal.com/making_charcoal (there seems to be many ways to make it - the method in that link seems easiest/cheapest) I would think this would be very effective (thinking: large quantities) both inside and outside the home. Speaking of which, it's shown to be extremely beneficial as a soil amendment for gardens & farming, too (and I'm sure their soil down there could use all the help it can get). The links below are taken from here: http://www.buyactivatedcharcoal.com/garden_farm
Now you've got me thinking: if charcoal is used safely & effectively as a soil amendment (to detoxify the soil), obviously they can't "dispose of it" once it's worked into the soil...so the chemicals don't continue to 'poison the soil' once they've been adsorped by the charcoal? If so, that would indicate that we could bury 'used charcoal' without contaminating the environment further. Of course, that's a long way from "proof", but it's certainly 'logical food for thought'.
I'll have to try some on next years garden! :)
Biochar 101Biochar - the new GREEN CHARCOAL. A brief overview of the dynamics of biochar and its nature.