Breathing with Chlorinated Solvents

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Science  06 Jun 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5318, pp. 1521-1522
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5318.1521

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Perry L. McCarty Chlorinated solvents, the carcinogenic agents that permeate the air in your dry cleaners, have accumulated in the groundwater because microorganisms in the soil do not break them down. Now Maymó-Gatell et al. have isolated the first bacterium that can metabolize trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene to the harmless compound ethene. Identification of the bacterium will potentially allow manipulation of the conditions underground to facilitate the natural destruction of chlorinated solvents.