What do you do to measure the level of pollution in your city? Keep an eye on the news? Watch outside for the smog? Turns out, there is a simpler way of finding out if the place you live in is polluted or not. The honey you eat, maybe a dollop in your tea, or spread on your bread, might just be a better indicator of pollution around you.
Latest studies done by scientists in Vancouver have found that the levels of zinc, copper and other such metallic elements in beehives can be a real indicator of pollution. This particular study has been done by a method that is very similar to fingerprinting in humans. The acceptable levels of zinc have been found to be somewhere where a human has to consume more than two cups of honey every day to feel any ill or adverse effects.
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If that seems quite ‘bee’zarre, let us tell you that scientists have found the concentration of heavy metal particles in hives that are closer to industrial regions. That is to say that the root cause of pollution in most of these cases is humans! Quite the surprise, if you note the sarcasm here considering the insane felling of trees and rampant industrialization!
It has also been found that, hives that are near the ports where cargo ships come from Asian countries, especially third-world Asian countries have more content of heavy metals like carbon and zinc in them. This proves that the pollution from Asian continents make their way to the Canadian shores because of these vessels. Some shipment of pollution we say!
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The advantage of this method of sampling honey and beehives is that these can give us much localised indicators of the level of pollution present in a particular city or place. Moreover, this sampling experiment can be done by anyone including simple citizen scientists who might lack the resources for heavy environmental monitoring and the process can be done anywhere.
The team of scientists behind this experiment now looks to expand their studies beyond Vancouver and the rest of Canada to the rest of the world in their bid to keep a close eye on pollution levels.
We say: Bring this experiment to India. Lord knows one needs to know and check the pollution levels in the Indian capital of all places before things go even more out of hand!