College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

ISU environmental engineer researches the most effective methods to clean water (text only)

Cool, clear water

With accessibility to clean water a major concern for many people, new research asks whether our old ways of cleaning water will continue to work . Kaoru Ikuma, an assistant professor in environmental engineering, finds that disinfection- a process for removing disease-causing microorganisms from drinking water- just help bacteria become resistant to standard chemicals.

“Until recently, disinfection has been considered safe and reliable; however, research in my lab indicates that some bacteria can become resistant to some chemicals used in disinfection, allowing them to survive in our drinking water and possibly cause diseases,” says Kaoru Ikuma, an assistant professor of environmental engineering at Iowa State University.

Ikuma is testing several disinfection chemicals to discover to which ones bacteria will fail to build resistance. The research keeps public safety and health at the forefront of a changing world where water availability and safety is consistently rare.

Focusing on what triggers the development of resistance in bacteria, Ikuma looks to test ways to block the resistance altogether. If bacteria lacks the ability to become resistant to disinfection, then the process remains effective, safe and reliable.