School of Mines scientists help identify toxic chemicals in waste water.

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - It's not something that's on many people's radar -- but research scientists at the School of Mines and Technology are already coming up with a way to detect a potential environmental and medical problem.

Antineoplastic drugs ... or chemotherapy chemicals are ending up in our wastewater ... causing wastewater treatment facilities to fail.

These drugs cut the DNA in organisms -- which can help get rid of cancer cells but will kill bacteria treating our wastewater. This causes numerous issues.

Thankfully, scientists at the School of Mines have developed a way to detect these drugs in wastewater and gather data to possibly combat this potential threat to humanity.

"If it is ignored, the government will see this but if it is ignored, what will happen is it will lead to initially microbes will die. So that will, because everything, the entire ecosystem, will be spoiled. Number one the ecosystem will be spoiled and the environment will be spoiled. Number two is that it will be a menace to mankind." says Dr. Navanietha Krishnaraj Rathinam, research scientist at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

The detection device is about an inch and a half long and a half an inch wide ... making it very useful to companies. Dr. Rathinam says many wastewater treatment facilities will be testing their water for these drugs in the near future -- which will be the first step to developing a solution.