An Indian grass, called vetiver, could act as a tool for clearing antibiotics from water.
Antibiotics, like many pharmaceuticals, pass through the digestive tract of people or animals largely unchanged.
The resulting drug-laden waste from farms and feedlots (or for that matter, apartments and subdivisions) may be treated, but conventional treatment methods don't break down excreted antibiotics.
The concentrations are small, probably not enough to have an immediate effect on anyone drinking a cup of water.
But by releasing antibiotics indiscriminately into the environment, scientists fear we are encouraging antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and making it harder to treat deadly infectious diseases, such as drug-resistant tuberculosis.
And now, an undergraduate biological sciences student and her professor at Michigan Technological Univesity have conducted a successful study using vetiver grass, a vigorous and noninvasive plant native to India, to clear antibiotics from water.