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Houstonian 1987
The Classrooms
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Students of the University of Houston. Houstonian 1987 - The Classrooms. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. April 19, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/yearb/item/25027/show/24785.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Students of the University of Houston. Houstonian 1987 - The Classrooms. Houstonian Yearbook Collection. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/yearb/item/25027/show/24785

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Students of the University of Houston, Houstonian 1987 - The Classrooms, Houstonian Yearbook Collection, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed April 19, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/yearb/item/25027/show/24785.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houstonian 1987
Creator (LCNAF)
  • Students of the University of Houston
Caption The Houstonian is the official yearbook of the University of Houston.
Subject.Name (LCNAF)
  • University of Houston
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction This image is in the public domain and may be used freely. If publishing in print, electronically, or on a website, please use the citation button above. To request higher resolution images, please use the Request High Res button above.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title The Classrooms
Creator (LCNAF)
  • Students of the University of Houston
Caption The Houstonian is the official yearbook of the University of Houston.
Subject.Name (LCNAF)
  • University of Houston
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction This image is in the public domain and may be used freely. If publishing in print, electronically, or on a website, please use the citation button above. To request higher resolution images, please use the Request High Res button above.
File name yearb_1987_157.jpg
Transcript A UH microbiologist has developed a process using harmless bacteria that could reduce the cost and eliminate the transportation problems involved in cleaning up most of the nation's hazardous waste dumps. John Evans, a professor of biology at UH since 1958, has cultured bacteria that like to eat specific toxic wastes such as PCBs and DDT. As they digest cheir chosen food source, the dangerous chemicals are safely and inexpensively degraded. "Unlike incineration or landfill methods, the microorgan- sms destroy wastes at the actu- d site, so the possibility of acci- Jents in transport is removed," le said. Evans and UH have entered nto an agreement with Detox ndustries, Inc., of Sugarland, to narket the chemical-eating >acteria. Thomas Dardas, Detox's chief executive office, said the company has been assigned all fights for the process under the terms of the co-venture agreement. Evans and the University NASA/JSC UH-Clear Lake \da Language and Programming Support Environment Seta Test Site. This center was charged with evaluation a new computer language, Ada, for future NASA applications, including the space station. The Ada programming language was developed by the department of Defense as a echnical and cost-effective solution to its increasing computer software development and maintenance problems. "The creation of RICIS is a natural progression for UH- Clear Lake, further enhancing this University's reputation as a center for space-related technology," says UH-Clear Lake President Thomas M. Stauffer. Strides* each will receive 5 percent of the first $2 million in gross revenue, and then 1 percent afterwards, at least for an initial five- year contract period. In addition, Detox has established a $1 million-endowed chair in microbiology at UH, naming Evans as the first recipient. "Being the chairholder permits me to do research full time," Evans said. In the process he developed, bacteria are cultured to select a particular type of organic waste as their food source, although they can be designed to eat more than one kind, he said. Evans, 61, said that as they eat, they break down the compound, extracting carbon for energy and leaving carbon dioxide and water as waste pro - ducts. The bacteria die when their food source has been exhausted, he said, and they become, in turn, food for larger, naturally occurring organisms. They leave no threat to the environment, Evans said. He said biodegradation can take from two months to more than a year to complete since it is dependent on many variables, including the kind of contamination and the environment in which contamination exists. Every waste dump is different in geometry, geology and content of organic and inorganic chemicals. Evans said or ganic chemicals are the most feared, most complex substances present — many of them are heavy metal and very difficult to biodegrade. Evans said each site must be analyzed and prepared in order to "Innoculate" the degrading organisms. "There are lots of chemical substances in a waste dump, and some of them are harmful to the cultured bacteria," he said. "They must be made resistant to them before they can utilize the hazardous waste." In addition to PCB and DDT, Evans' technology can neutralize PCPs, creosote, oil, chlorodane, myrex, and PAHs. Evans also has begun work on bacterial that will eat highly toxic dioxin, although his present research is concentrated upon improving his existing organisms. "I want to refine them to degrade in a shorter time and to adapt to a wider variety of environmental conditions," he said. Dardas said Detox has just signed a major contract with a major automaker to detoxify PCB contamination on site. Of about 300 biotechnology firms in the United States, Detox is the only one that has been licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency to biologically degrade PCBs, the persistent chemicals commonly used to cool and insulate heavy electrical equipment like transform ers and capacitors. However, EPA approval has not meant acceptance by that agency. "The EPA is resistant to biodegradation because it is new technology," Evans said. "They give it theoretical homage, but they do not recommend it to the industry. Industry will buy, but the EPA has not set acceptable levels for degradation." Roger Meacham, of the regional EPA office, verified that acceptable levels of biodegradation have not been established. "Each site is different, so each must be considered individually — across the board levels are not appropriate," he said. Meacham said although biodegradation is an alternative method of dealing with Super- fund sites, it is not the choice for all of them. "PCBs are very resistant to biodegradation; they take a long time," he said. "Another factor to consider is air emissions, particularly when the waste dump is in congested urban areas like many Texas sites are." Science magazine has reported that biodegradation should have an important role in the near future as the EPA finds it has no other alternative than to deal with the contents of most contaminated areas on site. Currently, due to a lack of incinerator capacity, there is a 2-year-old backlog of wastes to be burned. The increase of public resistance to the establishment of more authorized waste dumps for toxic chemicals also indicates the necessity of a proper disposal system. It took Evans 10 years to develop his waste-eating organisms, and he hopes going commercial with his research will "benefit the University and help clean up our polluted environment." — Marilyn Swanson 157