Polish town turns to mussels to help detect water contamination

Mussels are known to be the filters of the sea as they eat plankton.
Mussels are known to be the filters of the sea as they eat plankton.ST FILE PHOTO

POLAND (Reuters) - Residents in the southeastern Polish city of Rzeszow have a new ally in keeping their water supply clean - mussels.

Bivalves are known for their filtration abilities and a water company providing potable water from a local river has set up a laboratory using eight swollen river mussels in a tank to measure levels of pollutants, the latest place in the country to use such a method.

The mussels are connected to sensors measuring their response to changes in their environment. The project's team says mussels are sensitive to signs of chemical pollution and react fast by temporarily closing the orifices they use to filter water in and out of the shell.

After three months at the lab, the mussels will go back to their original habitat - various lakes in west-central Poland - and others brought in.