Japan's National Institute for Agro-Environment Sciences (NIAES) and Kowa Co., a major Japanese pharmaceutical company, announced on March 27, 2009, that they had discovered a new soil microorganism that efficiently decomposes melamine. While it is a widely used industrial chemical mass-produced to make resins and finishes, it is feared that exposure to melamine may cause serious health problems.
In recent years, recycling of industrial waste from factories has been promoted to establish a recycling-oriented society. In industrial waste containing paint, however, a lot of melamine still remains, so it is essential to completely decompose the hazardous melamine and cyanuric acid, a byproduct of the hydrolysis of melamine, in order to neutralize and recycle the waste.
The newly discovered bacterium decomposes melamine into cyanuric acid, which is then completely decomposed using a simazine-degrading bacterium possessed by NIAES.
The combination of these two steps is expected to underlie the development of technologies to decontaminate and bioremediate the environment if polluted by melamine and cyanuric acid, and to promote the recycling of industrial waste containing melamine.
National Institute for Agro-Environment Sciences official website