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Clams Could Clean Up Oil Spills Without Chemicals
A faculty-student research team at at Southeastern Louisiana University recently launched a study that will explore how the Rangia clam can be used to filter oil from polluted water. Previous research has found that Rangia clams have the ability to store concentrated levels of hydrocarbons without becoming ill. Although these clams are small in size, they’re also filter feeding organisms that can consume and digest different types of pollutants such as bacteria or viruses. The main goal of this study is to determine the effectiveness of these clams if used as filters to remove oil and other pollutants from bodies of water that are difficult to access.
Caitlyn Guice, a junior chemistry major at Southern Louisiana University, has received a $2,300 grant to kick start the project. Under the guidence of her professor Phillip Voegel, the research team will harvest and study Rangia clams inside cages while observing how they consume and dispose of hydrocarbons. The project is relatively small, but the results could have a big impact on how we deal with major environmental disasters like the BP oil spill that contaminated the Gulf waters last summer.
Lead photo © Gerry Thomasen
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