Across America, hazardous waste sites pose an ongoing threat to human and environmental health. The most severe cases are known as Superfund sites, of which over a thousand currently exist.
Across America, hazardous waste sites pose an ongoing threat to human and environmental health. The most severe cases are known as Superfund sites, of which over a thousand currently exist. Some 50 million Americans live within three miles of one of these zones, potentially placing them at increased risk for cancer and other serious diseases.
While decontamination of such sites is a public health priority, the technical challenges are daunting. Of particular concern are a pair of chlorinated chemicals known as TCE and perchlorate. TCE was widely used as a degreasing agent and perchlorate is used in the manufacture of propellants. Due to the widespread reliance on these chemicals in the past and their improper disposal, they have often found their way into the environment, posing significant risks to human health and surrounding ecosystems.
Bioremediation for the removal of these highly toxic chemicals, especially when they are present in mixtures, has long been a challenge for scientists. Chlorinated chemicals stubbornly persist in the environment, sometimes contaminating drinking water systems.
Read more at: Arizona State University
Srivatsan Mohana Rangan is a researcher in the Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology and lead author of the new study. (Photo Credit: The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University)