PCB Degrading Bacteria Found

PCBs are one of the most dangerous chemicals man has ever created and, to make matters worse, they are almost impossible to destroy. PCB is short for polychlorinated biphenyls, a compound made of chlorine and biphenyl that was used as coolant fluid in many electrical products in the past. Thankfully, we have improved our electrical equipment and, after seeing the negative effects they had on people and the environment, no longer use these terrible compounds to help run everyday appliances. This is a huge positive step for man and the environment. The only trouble is, what happens with the PCBs that we already released?

PCBs like the one shown in the diagram above are nearly invincible pollutants.

PCBs like the one shown in the diagram above are nearly invincible pollutants.

The answer is, these PCBs, thanks to their incredibly hearty nature, continue to pollute streams, rivers, bays and wetlands across the globe. They have been proven, in a variety of studies, to cause cancer and a range of other harmful effects in animals. Human trials are obviously more difficult to undertake but based on studies of humans exposed there is evidence that PCBs cause similar if not identical problems for us. For many years, despite knowledge of the dangers of these chemicals, nothing could be done besides scooping massive quantities of water and dirt from the bottom of a body of water and dumping the contaminated detritus in a landfill. This was inefficient and did damage to the environment in its own ways. But finally, an answer might be coming!

Scientists at the National University of Singapore have found three strains of bacteria (all belonging to a genus known as Dehalococcoides) which can eat away at PCBs and render them more inert. The engineers and scientists found these bacteria but did not stop there, they also went on to innovate ways of nurturing and collecting these bacteria on a grand scale so they could be used effectively to degrade the PCBs in a particular body of water.

It will still be a time before these new bacteria are optimized and made ready to help depollute areas affected by PCBs but it is a comfort to know that one day, we might be able to undo the damage we have done to the environment.

from Danny Yehia http://ift.tt/Xe2gWF


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