A Solution To Pollution

A project conducted in Dr. Grella's Research course.

Nabihah Ahsan

For years now, researchers around the world have focused their studies on one central question. A question that if answered, could save millions of animals from dying each year. That question is focused on plastic pollution and how we can effectively reduce its amount in lands and oceansBut wait…what if we humans were able to create a monster that could perhaps eat up all of the world’s plastic?  Sounds impractical right? Well, it turns out that we already have one! This monster comes in the form of a fungus known as Aspergillus niger

A panda made from a soda bottle, foam balls, paper mache, and a magazine. (Nabihah Ahsan)

Aspergillus niger is a type of fungus that grows on rotting fruits and vegetables. But it turns out that this fungus has proved to be more than just a nuisance.  Since it can use plastic as a carbon source, it is possible for it to effectively break down the plastic through biodegradation. Biodegradation is a process used to treat pollutants and break them apart in simpler elements so that they can be safely absorbed into the soil It is important to research which fungi are the most effective and can be tailored to break down the pollutant by targeting their limiting factors and encouraging their growth. By doing so, it’s possible that an environmental problem can be reduced in a safe and effective way. 

So what can you do to take part in the fight against plastic pollution? Did you know that you can turn garbage into a form of art? Yes! Grab your friends or family and take a trip to your local park to collect as much plastic as you can find. After having an adult sanitize the garbage, use your creativity and create something new! You can create anything from plastic jewelry to a colorful mosaic. Let your creativity take over!   

To learn more about the projects conducted in Dr. Grella’s and Mrs. Medwig’s Research courses, visit http://letssciencethat.org