Chilean scientists are studying bacteria that feed on metals. The results of the experiments may prove useful in solving environmental problems.
Researchers suggest using bacteria that recycle metals first and foremost to effectively eliminate mining pollution.
For the experiments, scientists took iron-oxidizing bacteria called leptospirillum. They were extracted from Tatio Geysers, located 4,200 meters above sea level, about 350 kilometers from the city of Antofagasta.
"The bacteria live in an acidic environment that is virtually unaffected by the relatively high concentrations of most metals," says biotechnologist Nadak Reales.
The scientists' lab is known to be located in Chile, near Santiago, an industrial city of Antofagast with a bad environment.
At the beginning of the research, the bacteria digested the nail in a month, but after two years, experts have been able to speed up the process considerably. And today the bacteria digest the nail in just three days. It should be noted that mining pollution, if not dealt with properly, can have devastating effects on the environment. Waste from mines, heavy metals, and acidic water often find their way into streams and rivers, contaminating freshwater sources. In fact, according to the EPA, nearly 1 million tons of toxic waste was generated at metal mines in 2017 alone.