This is Science Today. Selenium is a trace mineral
with a controversial history. In the early Eighties,
highly toxic levels of selenium drained into a
California reservoir killing wild birds. Since
then, earth scientists have been trying to come
up with a way to offset selenium contamination
in soil and sediment. Satish Myneni, a researcher
with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,
recently discovered that a natural occurring iron
oxide called green rust, converts toxic selenium
into a safer form.
Few people have found it in natural sediments
and soils. The surprising thing in the past, everybody
was saying that only bacteria is very critical
here to convert from more toxic form to the less
Myeni says their research offers a lot more insight
into selenium's basic chemistry.
I think it will help us to understand the basic
geochemical process that are actually taking place
in the sediments and soils. That will have a lot
of influence on our predictions like the geochemical
mobility of these contaminants.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin