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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lepomis macrochirus as a bio sensor for toxins

The use of biological agents to aid in many tasks that are currently done electronically is a progressive move for many reasons. One good example is the use of Bluegills (a kind of native north american sunfish) to keep track of toxins in drinking water. From the article
A type of fish so common that practically every American kid who ever dropped a fishing line and a bobber into a pond has probably caught one is being enlisted in the fight against terrorism.

San Francisco, New York, Washington and other big cities are using bluegills -- also known as sunfish or bream -- as a sort of canary in a coal mine to safeguard their drinking water.

Small numbers of the fish are kept in tanks constantly replenished with water from the municipal supply, and sensors in each tank work around the clock to register changes in the breathing, heartbeat and swimming patterns of the bluegills that occur in the presence of toxins.

A similar strategy is adopted in some Indian industrial units (especially metal smelters etc) where the Pollution control board requires the effluent to be discharged through a pond where carp are reared as a bio indicator of the effluent quality.

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