Narrator: This is Science Today. The Environmental
Protection Agency is calling for the immediate reduction
of MTBE, a gasoline additive used in many states
to lower air pollution. The decision was based on
a University of California study, which found the
carcinogenic chemical was contaminating drinking
water. Meanwhile, chemical engineer Mark Deshusses
at the University of California, Riverside has been
working on ways to biodegrade the MTBE that's still
We use microbes to break down the chemicals and
we took some cultures from contaminated sites -
some microbial cultures. It does get broken down
over time and that's a very interesting finding
because it was not known until very recently that
MTBE could be degraded.
Narrator: The challenge now is getting MTBE
to biodegrade in the field as well as it does in
Deshusses: It's really important to find
a solution because MTBE moves very rapidly in the
soil, underground. So when you have a leak, very
quickly you will find it in your drinking water.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.