Need An Air Quality Inspection? Leave It To A Bee
If a bee had a resume’ it would probably include being a pollinator, honey producer, honeycomb builder, and hive security guard in the work experience and their references might have the queen bee’s contact information so their talents can be confirmed. Also, if an employer was reviewing the resume, they might conclude this bee has a diverse portfolio and is qualified for numerous types of jobs. Today, that same bee may be able to add another profession to its work experience: Air Quality Inspector.
Dusseldorf International Airport has just hired on 200,000 bees to use their honey as indicators for heavy pollutants in the air. In June, the bees were released around the airport, and just recently samples of the honey were collected by scientists to test for hydrocarbon pollutants, which can be found in the air now.
It is known that the air quality near a highway is poor and will cause health problems to individuals that live near those heavy traffic roads. Currently, microscopic particles are present in the air near freeways and cause clogged arteries and plaque build-up resulting in higher chances of heart attacks and strokes for people that are consistently surrounded by these toxins.
The lack of knowledge about air quality and health risks of living near an airport spawned the bee experiment.
Airports are blasted with chemical exhaust from airplanes, taxis, buses, and car emissions. The chemical residue is absorbed by nearby flowers and plants thus contaminating the plants. If bees use the pollen from these tainted flowers, then the honey they produce will contain the pollutants.
One sample of honey was collected from bees near the airport and another from a bee hive in an industrial area. Both the samples collected had similar contaminants in them; concluding, with further research this method can be used to determine the air quality.
Although, scientists have found success monitoring the water quality by using insects, they believe this new venture may be too early to draw accurate answers and conclusions that can be applied to the real world.