New Microbe Munches Pollutants

Trichloroethaneor TCA, is a solvent that contaminates groundwater and erodes the ozone layer. It is present at many polluted sites across the country. TCA comes from many common products such as glue, paint and industrial degreasers. Now scientists say they’ve found a microbe that can help clean it up. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tamar Charney reports:

Transcript

Trichloroethane or TCA is a solvent that contaminates groundwater
and erodes the ozone layer. It is present at many polluted sites across
the country. TCA comes from many common products such as glue,
industrial
degreasers, and aerosol sprays. Now scientists say they’ve found a
microbe
that can help clean it up. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tamar
Charney reports:


One way polluted water can be cleaned is to add bacteria that breaks
down the harmful substances. It is a process called bioremediation. In a
recent issue of “Science,” researchers at Michigan State University say
they’ve identified a microbe that could do this with TCA. Benjamin
Griffin is a doctoral student who worked on the project. He says they
found the bacteria in sediment in the Hudson River.


“They actually breathe TCA, so they respire it. They’re using this
chlorinated compound in the same way we use oxygen.”


The bacteria breaks down the TCA into other compounds. Those chemical
compounds can then be further broken down by other pollution-eating or
breathing bacteria. Up until now, scientists though there might not be
a
way to biodegrade TCA. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Tamar
Charney.

Natural Cork Makers Unite

For hundreds of years, wine-makers have used natural cork – made
from tree bark – to seal their bottles. But natural corks are… well,
natural.
And sometimes they harbor a mold that can cause wine to go bad. Some
wine-makers are switching to synthetic corks – made of plastic – as a
solution. But right now, they only make up about one-percent of the
market. Nevertheless, natural cork manufacturers are taking action.
The
Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Wendy Nelson reports: