Flushed with success

May 18, 2007

Scientists at Brighton University have an unknown Sussex resident to thank for a breakthrough that could help Europe to clean up its rivers and bathing waters.

Huw Taylor and James Ebdon of the university's School of the Environment have isolated a strain of a harmless bacterium from the human gut that helps them show whether water is contaminated by human or animal faeces.

That bacterium, which was flushed into the sewerage system last year, was "captured" by the scientists from a treatment plant.

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