"Giant Snails Monitor Air Pollution in Russian City"

"ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - It's a snail-paced solution to pollution woes.

The St. Petersburg waterworks is putting six giant gastropods to work monitoring emissions from a sewage incinerator. The African snails, the size of some rats, are attached to sensors that will show them getting sick if they take in too much bad air.

Some environmentalists say the unusual move is just a publicity stunt aimed at distracting attention from unsafe practices at the incinerator. But the waterworks company, Vodokanal, says it's a serious attempt to improve control over what comes out of the smokestack.

The plant uses conventional gauges to check emissions, but company officials said they also wanted to keep an eye on compounds that might be produced in concentrations too low for the gauges to detect or that might harm humans when combined with other substances."

Irina Titova reports for the Associated Press February 3, 2011.
Source: AP, 02/03/2011