A half-mile down the dusty road of a northern California ranch stands a large, black rectangle, silhouetted against the afternoon sun. Under a black water-resistant cover sit nine of the most sophisticated compost piles on earth. They’re squeezed together with large hay bales. Buried inside are moisture and gas sensors, thermometers, air ventilators, and strangely, lots of prescription drugs.
This is the site of an experiment by Gary Andersen, a researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. With prescription drugs and antibiotics increasingly appearing in our drinking water or taken up by plants, Andersen wants to know whether the same tiny microorganisms that chew up your coffee grounds and apple cores, can also be used to destroy drugs so they don’t wind up in our environment. Read more