SEJONG, Jan.7 (Korea Bizwire) – A bacteria that lowers the toxicity of arsenic has been discovered. Arsenic is a poisonous heavy metal that is generated when metal is manufactured, and the new bacteria is expected to be used in restoring polluted soil around smelters or closed mines.
The National Institute of Biological Resources and professor Park Su-jae’s research team at Jeju University announced that they have discovered a new bacteria that lowers the toxin levels of mineral waste containing arsenic.
Arsenic is known to cause cancer of the liver, kidneys and skin. It is produced as a by-product when smelting copper, lead or zinc. In nature, it exists as arsenite or arsenate, which are oxidized forms of arsenic.
Arsenite is usually 20 to 60 times more poisonous than arsenate. Arsenite is as toxic as potassium cyanide, and 0.1 to 0.3 grams of the substance could kill a human.
The new bacteria is capable of oxidizing 1,200ppm of arsenite to the same amount of arsenate.
The bacteria can survive in extremely acidic environments where the hydrogen ion concentration (pH) reaches 3.8. The pH of pure water is 7 (neutral). When the pH is higher than 7, the substance is classified as an alkaline, and when the pH is lower than 7, it is an acid.
The National Institute of Biological Resources and professor Park Su-jae’s team applied for a patent for the discovery of the bacteria, which they named ‘Herminiimonas arsenitoxidans’.
By Kevin Lee (email@example.com)