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A. Putting Mother Nature To Work

Narrator: This is Science Today. A natural way to rid contaminated groundwater of MTBE, a gasoline additive used to reduce car emissions, is being developed at the University of California, Riverside. Chemical engineer Marc Deshusses says his lab is using naturally occurring microbes to eat up MTBE.

Deshusses: Who are these microbes? These are a mixed soup, a mixed bag of microbes and I don't have the answer. We're doing right now some relatively advanced genetic techniques to try to characterize them and to give a name to these microbes. Ultimately, it's less interesting to know their names than to know how they function. But we will soon have an answer, I hope.

Narrator: Especially since the way of the future seems to be finding more natural solutions to clean up hazardous waste.

Deshusses: If you think that the least natural way is to excavate and then put some chemicals or dispose or burn or whatever - and that's very expensive, whereas if you can let Mother Nature do the job, that's certainly the cheapest way to do it.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.