ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Today — Earth Day — researchers at Nazareth College said they could have found a way to eliminate toxic chemicals through a plant grown right here in Western New York.

“That is the exciting part, like finding out for the first time that we have, a grass that we are using for a lot of different purposes can do something else as well to take care of the plastic contamination,” said Dr. Padmini Das, Director of the Environmental and Sustainability program and biology professor.  

The study centers around switchgrass and according to researchers, it has the ability to remove toxin bisphenol-a, better known as BPA, at its highest concentration ever reported in any environment. According to the college, switchgrass specifically removes BPA from surface water, soil, and landfill leachate where it concentrates the most.

It is a chemical that can be found in the linings of food cans, jar lids, and water bottles. Experts say long-term exposure to BPA can lead to infertility, diabetes, and cancer.

In the college findings, researchers said the toxin was reduced about 40% in three months. Which could be a possible treatment option for landfills and benefit neighborhoods near it.

“That was one of the reasons that drew me in at the beginning. It was like ok not only am I only helping in the environment but I’m also learning about what these chemicals can actually do to the body,” said Jacob C. Phouthavong-Murphy, a Nazareth alumnus working on the research. “Getting this chemical out of the environment in the fastest way possible is something that could really help the health of our whole world.”

The study was published in the international journal of  Scientific Reports.