Giant snails monitor air pollution in Russia

Jan 18, 2011
Steam from a power generating station billows in Moscow in 2009. A Russian waterworks has recruited giant African snails to act as living sensors to monitor air pollution from a sewage incinerator.

A Russian waterworks has recruited giant African snails to act as living sensors to monitor air pollution from a sewage incinerator, the company said Tuesday.

The waterworks is using six snails as an innovative way to monitor pollution from a incinerator that burns sewage residue on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg, the Vodokanal state utilities company said in a statement.

The Achatina snails, which reach 20 centimetres in length and are widespread in Sub-Saharan Africa, were chosen because "they have lungs and breathe air like humans," the company said.

The snails have been fitted with heart monitors and motion sensors while breathing smoke from the plant and their readings will be compared with a control group, waterworks spokeswoman Oksana Popova told AFP.

While are frequently used to monitor pollution, an expert dismissed the use of snails to monitor the controversial incinerator as a publicity stunt.

"Burning sludge emits toxic dioxins," said Dmitry Artamonov, who heads the the Saint Petersburg office of Greenpeace environmental campaigning group

"I don't know if snails get cancer, but even if they do, it won't happen straight away, and we will not hear about it from Vodokanal."

Artamonov said that last year Vodokanal refused access when activists wanted to take a water sample at the sewage treatment facility, which is one of the biggest in the country.

Explore further: Research helps steer mites from bees

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Giant snails a danger in Florida

Aug 10, 2005

Florida officials reportedly are fearful giant South American channeled apple snails might threaten native species and endanger water quality.

Snails on methamphetamine

May 28, 2010

Crystal meth (methamphetamine) is a highly addictive drug that seduces victims by increasing self-esteem and sexual pleasure, and inducing euphoria. But once hooked, addicts find the habit hard to break. Barbara ...

Atlantic snails are increasing dramatically in size

Mar 24, 2009

A Queen's University biologist has discovered that the shell lengths of snails in the northwest Atlantic Ocean - an important member of the Atlantic food chain - have increased by 22.6 per cent over the past ...

Recommended for you

Research helps steer mites from bees

Sep 19, 2014

A Simon Fraser University chemistry professor has found a way to sway mites from their damaging effects on bees that care and feed the all-important queen bee.

User comments : 0