Fungi to the rescue? Sterling grad wants to render asbestos nontoxic

Nov 10, 2010 09:01 pm | Tena Starr

Asbestos’ toxicity to humans is related to its needle-like structure. Some species of fungi have been found to remove magnesium, silica, and iron from the chrysotile fibers, thus affecting their structure.

“We’re experimenting with the fungi and asbestos native to the mine site to see if there’s a morphological change in the asbestos fibers after the fungi remove these minerals,” she said. “If the asbestos is rendered amorphous, meaning it no longer has its needle-like structure, then it may no longer pose a toxic risk to humans.

“When it comes to cleaning up toxic waste, scientists keep finding that nature knows best,” Ms. McHardy said.

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