Whereas in the U.S. and Canada the use of SPEARS had been limited to the cleanup of well-known organic environmental toxins such as polycyclic chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), Jansson said, the Swedish scientists would also attempt to use it to clean up a range of other toxic compounds and metals.
Until their ban in manufacture in the late 1970s, PCB chemicals were widely used and notably in paints and adhesives. Even though their manufacture stopped, said NASA Kennedy Space Center scientist Jackie Quinn, in a promotional video for SPEARS, PCBs are found ubiquitously throughout the globe. Classified as persistent organic pollutants, they are known to induce cancer.
The UmU scientists, however, will test not only whether SPEARS can be made to clean sediments in Sweden of PCBs and PAHs, but also whether it can remove polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and dibenzofurans, as well as metal-based substances or metals such as arsenic, methyl mercury or tributyltin.