PROVO — Dangerous chemicals are no match for the appetite of a tiny microorganism.
Thanks to a patented delivery system developed by scientists at Pure Enviro Management LLC., in Provo, and a "bug" developed by scientists at BYU, dirty soils can be quickly and easily remediated.
"They had the bug, we had the delivery system, we found that (together they) worked phenomenally well, better than (we) imagined," said Dean Simmons, director of marketing for Pure Enviro.
Pure Enviro was recently granted exclusive rights to use the microorganism in the United States and Canada, with BYU remaining a partner in their projects, Simmons said.
The delivery system not only "turns on" the BYU bug, which then chows down on the chlorinated chemicals, but it also excites other microorganisms in the soil, Simmons said. Those chemicals will also start to nibble away at noxious chemicals, leaving behind water and carbon dioxide.
One large area of possibility for the bug is dry-cleaning facilities, Simmons said.
Before the government imposed rules regarding the disposal of dry-cleaning chemicals, shop owners would simply toss them out the back door, Simmons said.
In one test site in Murray, Simmons said they unleashed the bugs into the soil behind a dry-cleaning business, and within seven weeks, the area was more than 90 percent clean.
BYU was unable to release many details about the development of the microorganism for proprietary reasons.