Chicks Dig It
A high-tech composting technique in which natural soil bacteria and fungi are combined with chicken droppings is now being used to clean up areas contaminated by DDT and other toxic pesticides. The method, which was patented in the U.S. this week, involves digging up polluted soil and creating carefully controlled compost heaps that let soil bacteria eat through a range of dangerous chemicals. A large-scale trial in Tampa, Fla., has been quite successful, with 90 percent of the DDT being broken down into water, carbon dioxide, and salts. The technique seems to be significantly cheaper than other decontamination methods. In other heartening waste news, NASA is sponsoring a joint project that could turn human waste into a power source for spaceships. The idea follows a Russian project that aims to use bacteria to break down astronauts’ used underwear to make methane, which could then be used to power spacecraft.