Narrator: This is Science Today. Water contamination from MTBE, a gasoline additive used to reduce tailpipe emissions, has become a major issue - especially in parts of California. Mark Deshusses, a chemical and environmental engineer at the University of California, Riverside explains.
Deshusses: In brief, the usual components of gasoline are easy to biodegrade. They disappear relatively rapidly in the environment, but MTBE is much more persistent so that causes a problem because there's a lot of leaking underground storage tank or even leaking pipelines.
Narrator: Over the last two years, Deshusses and his lab have had some promising results breaking down MTBE using environmentally friendly microbes stimulated by a peat extract.
Deshusses: And it was very interesting that to see the culture that did not have this peat extract were just doing OK. But the one that had the peat extract were actually degrading MTBE three times as fast as the others.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.