A Russian waterworks facility is using six giant African snails to monitor air pollution from its sewage incinerator.
The Achatina snails, which can grow up to 20 cm in height, have been fitted with heart monitors and motion sensors so that researchers can keep an eye on the effects of air pollution. Their readings will be compared with a control group, AFP reports.
The waterworks chose the snails as air pollution sensors because they have lungs and breathe air, the Vodokanal state utilities company said.
Dmitry Artamonov, the head of the Saint Petersburg office of Greenpeace environmental campaigning group, criticized the move as a publicity stunt.
“Burning sludge emits toxic dioxins,” AFP quoted Artamonov as saying. “I don’t know if snails get cancer, but even if they do, it won’t happen straight away, and we will not hear about it from Vodokanal.”
The sewage treatment facility, which is located on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg, is one of the biggest in Russia.