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E. Detoxifying Selenium Contamination, Naturally

Narrator: 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.

Myneni: 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 toxic forms.

Narrator: Myeni says their research offers a lot more insight into selenium's basic chemistry.

Myneni: 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