News article: As-eating super-bug 'answer to harmful pollution'
- Ah, there is nothing like hope. Take care and please keep safe.
Super-bug 'answer to harmful pollution'
Article from: AAP
February 21, 2008 07:31am
AN arsenic-eating super-bug could be the answer to clean up decades of mining and farming pollution threatening the landscape and human health, Australian scientists said.
The bug or "microbe", as scientists describe the creature, has been found living in soils heavily contaminated with poisonous arsenic which was once used to control parasites on sheep and cattle.
At these sites arsenic is usually present in the highly toxic and most difficult to remediate form arsenite, or as the less toxic arsenate, University of South Australia Professor Megh Mallavarapu said.
"We'd been looking for over a year at microbes that tolerate arsenic and (chemical insecticide) DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, now banned) and this one popped up," Prof Mallavarapu said.
"It takes in the highly toxic arsenite, and oxidises it to the much less dangerous arsenate form, which can easily be immobilised (by) other methods.
"The bug holds hope of developing an efficient biological method for cleaning up the hundreds of thousands of arsenic stock dip sites in Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and other countries, places where arsenic-treated timber posts have been made or used, sites of old railway lines, as well as old gold-mining regions where arsenic flushes out of tailings dumps into surface and groundwater, posing a risk to anyone who drinks it."
Arsenic is known to cause cancer of the skin, lung, bladder, kidney, liver and uterus, and is also linked to several skin diseases, nerve disorders, diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, suspected birth defects, liver and blood disorders, said research and development organisation CRC CARE managing director Professor Ravi Naidu.
"This is a truly momentous discovery ... as it addresses one of the most intractable contamination problems facing almost all societies," he said.
"The microbe is completely harmless to humans, animals and the environment in other respects."
Deborah Elaine Barrie
4 Catherine Street
Smiths Falls, On
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