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Toxin Filters Roundup

April 29, 2011

In the event of a nuclear accident, a new filter made of natural materials could treat water contaminated with radioactive iodine.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (Host):

Soaking up toxic waste. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Radioactive iodine can contaminate water near damaged nuclear power plants. If ingested, it can accumulate in the thyroid gland and eventually cause cancer. Scientists at North Carolina State University have developed a filter material from tree fiber and crustacean shells that can absorb radioactive iodine right out of the water. They say the material could help treat water in disaster areas without the need for electricity.

In other news, researchers in China report in the International Journal of Environment and Pollution on how they used genetically modified bacteria to clean pesticides out of the air. They modify the bacteria to be able to break down parathion and methyl parathion, two potent pesticides, and then put the microbes into filter material. The scientists report that the bacteria captured and broke down nearly 100% of the pesticides that pass through the filter. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.