Eels take pollution to heart

时间:2019-02-26 04:16:07166网络整理admin

By Peter Hadfield THEY used to send canaries down mines. Now they’re putting eels into water they’d never naturally inhabit—and all because the creatures are sensitive to pollution. Aquatech in Tokyo has developed a monitoring system that measures the eels’ heartbeat to detect impurities in water. Heart rates in eels speed up when they are exposed to some pollutants, such as the carcinogen trichloroethylene, and slow down when others, such as cadmium and cyanide, are found in the water. This phenomenon was noted five years ago by Kenji Namba of the University of Hiroshima. Namba mentioned it to Shunji Eto, an old schoolfriend who runs Aquatech, and the two of them developed a pollution monitor based on the eels’ responses. In the new system, water is pumped through its usual treatment system. The purified water then passes through an acrylic tube in which the eel is housed. Electrodes are attached to the animal to monitor its heart rate, and any change in it is detected automatically,