American Scientists Find Napthalene Eating Bugs

02 November 2003


Scientists in America announced this week that they have found a strain of bacteria that might help to clean up toxic residues from old industrial sites. Polaromonas naphthalenivorans can break down napthalene in coal tar contamination. Although naphthalene is not the most toxic component in coal tar, the microbiologists say their discovery might eventually help to speed the cleanup of hundreds of 19th and 20th century gasworks throughout the United States where the manufacture of gas from coal for homes and street lighting left a toxic legacy in the ground. Previously microbiologists had discovered a bacterium (Dehalococcoides ethenogenes) that biodegrades the industrial cleaning compound trichlorethylene (TCE). Billions of D. ethenogenes microbes are now at work at a New Jersey Superfund site and other TCE-polluted locations.


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