Glowing Worms Help Detect Indoor Air Pollution
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The health impacts of outdoor air pollution are well-known. But indoor air pollution, caused by emissions from building materials or even air fresheners, can be just as harmful. Yet, there are no widely-accepted methods to detect the toxins. But researchers at the University of Turku in Finland hope to change that with the help of tiny glowing worms.
For their study, the scientists used two types of nematodes, also known as roundworms. The millimeter-long transparent worms had been genetically modified. They produced green fluorescent protein (GFP) when placed close to biological or chemical toxins.
In tests done in the laboratory, Päivi Koskinen and his team found that the worms turned a fluorescent green when exposed to household toxins. This included black mold collected from moisture-damaged structures. The worms could even detect the presence of harsh chemicals in cleaning products. The intensity of the color depended on the amount of toxin present.
“The nematodes cannot tell us what kind of toxic compounds there are in the air, but they can provide an unbiased opinion on health risks associated with indoor air and on the need for more thorough technical investigations,” explains Koskinen.
The worms have previously been used to monitor the harmful effects of things like heavy metals on the environment. But this is the first time they have been used to detect indoor air pollution.
Resources: Newatlas.com, University of Turku
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- charlottebetrix7 daysThat's so cool! (But slightly freaky.) When I first saw the picture I thought it was a collection of bacteria. ;)
- arilovesoftball13 daysI would think it was a glow stick🤣
- hudsonkern13 daysthese would be very scary to see. :D
- sean90813 daysdidn't nematodes eat spongebob's house in that one episode
- judebishop13 daysman imagine seeing a worm glow bright green like a flash-bang in your kitchen
- hudsonkern13 daysi agree man
- unavailable12319 daysi didn't even know that was possible
- foxgirl2819 daysamazing! science can help us so much!
- robotmaddy1120 daysThat’s so cool!
- anna_mae20 daysWho knew things like that even existed?!
- adroit_avimimus3 daysI definitely didn't!
- blueboygrayson21 daysOMG. those look so weird but they help the environment.