Wetlands may offer safe solution for toxic farm waste

Researchers at Berkely University, California, have found that certain wetland plants can convert toxic inorganic selenium into safe gaseous form, according to a report in The Boston Globe.

Selenium can build up in a toxic form in the evaporation ponds commonly used to dispose of wastewater from farms. The effectiveness of wetlands in removing selenium was discovered inadvertently during an experimental clean-up project for the Chevron Oil refinery near San Francisco Bay.

Further work is needed to find a safe way to use this technique, to avoid transferring toxins back into the eco-system via birds, insects or fish feeding on contaminated plants, says the report.

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