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Scientists Are Using Bacteria To Remove Harmful Contaminants From Our Water. Here’s How.

John Coates’ laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, hums with activity. Negative 80-degree freezers whirr, liquid nitrogen bubbles, grad students meticulously measure and mix complicated concoctions. But all of this is nothing compared with the commotion going on at a microscopic level.  The Coates lab is growing many different kinds of bacteria, multiplying in petri dishes at mind-boggling rates. But these bacteria aren’t out to harm people or animals. In fact, quite the opposite — they’re hard at work breaking down a dangerous chemical that pollutes waterways across the United States.