“These Mussels Could Be Key to Decontaminating New York City’s Dirty Waters”

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The Story

“These Mussels Could Be Key to Decontaminating New York City’s Dirty Waters”
by Katherine Kornei
Science, November 13, 2017

The Pitch

Hi David,
High levels of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in water can result in harmful algae blooms and fish die-off. However, wastewater treatment plants often discharge such nutrients directly into waterways. Now, researchers have turned to a natural solution—mussels—to clean up the water.

Scientists collected thousands of ribbed mussels and affixed them to a raft floating in the Bronx River Estuary near New York City. These animals absorb nutrients into their tissues and shells—so they act like natural cleaners—and they’re not used for human consumption. Based on filtration experiments, the researchers estimated that a fully stocked raft of mussesls—hundreds of thousands of mussels—could clean several million liters of water per day and remove hundreds of kilograms of particulate matter.

This result was published today in Environmental Science & Technology. I have attached a PDF of the manuscript.


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