Can Algae Help Clean the Environment?

A while ago, I blogged about bisphenol A and its risks.  Tetrabromobisphenol-A is another hormone-disrupting chemical that is used in plastics, textiles and electronics products as a flame retardant.  More than 170,000 tons of TBBPA are produced every year.  And while TBBPA poses potential risks to both wildlife and human health, it is not yet regulated.

The bad news is that TBBPA can be released into the environment during the production, usage and disposal of products.  It has been detected in air, dust, sewage sludge, wastewater, surface water and sediment.

The good news is that TBBPA can naturally degrade under certain environmental conditions.  In fact, some species of algae have been shown to be able to transform phenolic compounds such as BPA and chlorophenol.

Scientists in China studied six types of freshwater green microalgae, examining their ability to transform and degrade TBBPA.  Four of the algae species achieved moderate removal of TBBPA, while two algae species achieved nearly complete removal.  While scientists were unable to achieve complete degradation of TBBPA by algae biotransformation, their experiments point the way to further research in removing toxic chemicals from the environment.

Researchers used an Agilent LC/mass spectrometer, time-of-flight mass spectrometer and MassHunter software for their research.


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