Silver river purified
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Silver river purified

The largest rivers in Italy's centre and north-the Arno, the Po and the Lambro-are suffering from alarming quantities of cocaine and heroin.   Tests on Florence's sewage water were conducted by the Toxicology Department of the University of Florence during the last six months of 2006

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Thu 27 Oct 2011 12:00 AM

The largest rivers in
Italy’s centre and north-the Arno, the Po and the Lambro-are
suffering from alarming quantities of cocaine and heroin.

 

Tests on Florence’s
sewage water were conducted by the Toxicology Department of the
University of Florence during the last six months of 2006 and
throughout New Year’s celebrations to ring in 2007. Results showed
that during this period Florentines consumed 12kg of cocaine and
1.149kg of heroin, translating in a ratio of about 1 to 10. Similar
levels were recorded in the Po in 2005, finding that about 4kg of
cocaine a day flowed through Italy’s biggest river. More recently,
the Istituto Mario Negri presented the results of a study showing
things have not changed: traces of cocaine and heroin can be found in
the Arno, Po and Lambro rivers. In an effort to clean these important
waterways of such harmful substances, the Fondazione AquaLab, in
collaboration with the University of Milan and Milan-Bicocca, began
a pilot project in January 2011, populating these rivers with a zebra
mussel that acts as a filter.

 

The zebra mussel, whose
scientific name is Dreissena polymorpha, is a small freshwater mussel
native to Russia and its lakes. An invasive species in North America,
Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Sweden, zebra mussels do,
however, filter pollution, such as pharmaceutical drugs, heavy metal
substances and drugs such as cocaine and heroin, out of the water and
retain it in their organisms. According to officials on the project,
the populations of zebra mussels used in the project will be removed
from the rivers at the end of their life cycles- along with the
harmful substances.

 

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