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February 8, 2005

Smith Undergrad to Showcase Research at Top Scientific Conference

The Focus: Reducing Carcinogens Common in Drinking Water

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—A Smith College undergraduate will present a promising means to decrease the amount of carcinogens common in drinking water, including the local supply, at a scientific meeting later this month.

Lindsay Hatch, a chemistry major from Hampden, Mass., was invited to display her work during the undergraduate session at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)—the world’s largest general scientific society—Feb. 17-21 in Washington, D.C.

Hatch’s work concerns haloacetic acids, carcinogens associated with an increased risk of bladder and kidney cancer and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Their concentration in drinking water is formed by the reaction of naturally occurring acid found in leaves and other organic matter with a halogen, such as chlorine.

In an attempt to pinpoint a mechanism that can degrade the haloacetic acids, Hatch focused on an enzyme produced by bacteria. She extracted the enzymes from cells and added them to solutions of haloacetic acids. Using ion chromatography, a scientific technique that separates the small components in the solution, Hatch is now analyzing those solutions to determine the rate and products of the acids’ degradation.

Hatch’s investigation, called “Bacterial Depletion of Haloacetic Acids in Drinking Water,” is conducted with Maureen Fagan, assistant professor of chemistry, and Esteban Monserrate, laboratory instructor in biology.

“Certain species of bacteria degrade these compounds into chloride and other nontoxic organic acids,” said Fagan. “We are trying to identify the products and determine the mechanism of this degradation.”

Hatch is a member of the Class of 2006 at Smith College, the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country. Smith is consistently ranked among the nation’s foremost liberal arts colleges, enrolling 2,800 students from every state and
60 other countries.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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