How clams are the defenders of our water supply

It turns out that one of our favorite mollusks is incredibly good at detecting pollution in water. In Poland, close to the city of Warsaw and under the Vistula river, there are eight clams hooked up to computers. They are monitoring the drinking water for the city on a continual basis. When the clams encounter toxins in the water (heavy metals, pesticides or other pollutants) they close their shells. A simple device attached to their shells is monitored by a computer and provides a warning if they detect any clamming up. The system can automatically cut off the water supply to the city if it detects contaminated water. The ROI on employing the clams is incredible considering they can live for up to 20 years. Bigger picture, its a good reminder of how much of our advanced innovation has been inspired by nature. Article modified from the Economist Jan 23, 2021. Images copyright Piot Domek

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