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Cleaning up toxic waste: directed evolution vs. designed machines

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Some heavy metals are required in trace amounts for the survival of living organisms, however at higher concentrations these metals can be incredibly toxic. In Europe, the elements of highest concern are arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, mercury, manganese, nickel, lead, tin, and thallium, all of which can be produced as by-products of industrial processes or along roadways. Unlike organic pollutants, metals don’t decay or break-down over time, if anything they have a tendency to precipitate into the soil or surrounding environment and accumulate into dangerous quantities via bioaccumulation.

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