Water may look clean, but it can contain many clear or diluted chemicals, unobservable by the naked eye, that can seriously harm human health. Water testing is not prohibitively expensive, but it only tests for certain things. So Leah Schecter of Florida decided to see if one can actually SEE and test the quality of water, using bioluminescent dinoflagellates (bacteria).
The bioluminescence of an organism is a very good indicator of overall health and so she tested some groups to see how long their bioluminescence would last. It lasted about 30 seconds for the control group and 34 seconds for the experimental group. She then added the most popularly used pesticide to the experimental group. The chemical contained Atrazine, which causes harm to human and animal life, and the results were quite acute.
After 4 days, the control group had lost 6 seconds of luminescence while the experimental group, that exposed to the chemical, lost 24 seconds, to 10 seconds, only 29% of its initial duration. It is clear that the Atrazine had a significant effect on the health of even these small bacteria. While this specific experiment only applies to salt water, Leah says that the experiments can be duplicated for fresh water applications with strains of other bacterium or lichens found in fresh water.
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