Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Grass Species Removes Toxin

The cost of having an army or military is not just money wise but also environmental. The artillery shells that are fire for practice to better train our soldiers leave a trace of a toxic organic compound known as RDX. If enough of the compound is ingested, it can lead to organ damage, and seizures. The problem is not in the air a person breaths near the contamination but what is happening underground. When the shells are fired they drop to the ground where the soil absorbs the RDX. When it rains the compound is pushed further down into the earth where there are natural water reserves which get contaminated. The water then gets pump up for drinking purposes and people get ill.

Science have been able to modify a transgenic grass species to be able to absorb the RDX into its roots. The is just the begin. The plant is actually able to cover the RDX into nitrogen which makes the plant grow bigger but also gets rid of the complete trace of the RDX. "UW engineers introduced two genes from bacteria that learned to eat RDX and break it down into harmless components in two perennial grass species: switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera)"(Sciencedaily). Normal grass is able to absorb the toxin too but when it dies the toxin gets release back into the environment, it is not able to get rid of it. The grass species have not been approved by the USDA yet, since they need to make sure it will not start to take over or be harmful to the environment. If this grass species does get approved, does what it is supposed to, it can be planted and maintained with little cost which would help contaminated areas get cleaned up in a couple of weeks. One of the study done took a contaminated area less than two weeks to clean up. The speed this species is able to do it is amazing.

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