Sea Shells Remove Heavy Metals from Water

We have heard a lot about the health hazards of heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, etc. polluting our water. It gets into our food chain and drinking water and causes a variety of health issues.

In 2009, Stephan Kohler of the Graz University of Technology in Austria and a team of researchers used common sea shells to cleanse water contaminated with toxic metals like zinc, cadmium, lead and iron.

The researchers discovered that by pouring the toxic water over a bed of crushed clam or mussel shells, the metals were effectively removed. In the developing countries, this process could save many lives with minimal costs involved.

The way it works is the sea shells are made of calcium carbonate. The heavy metals bond to the shells, thus taking them out of the water. Clam and mussel shells are a waste product of the seafood industry in many places.

Kohler’s team uses methods based on studies done by Manuel Prieto of Spain’s Oviedo University. Prieto demonstrated in 2003 that he could remove cadmium from water by using sea shells made of calcium carbonate.

The great thing about this process is that sea shells are abundant and economical all over the world. This means even in developing countries, we have a way to deal with the problem of heavy metal pollution that is practical.

Obviously, we need to stop the actual problem of dumping these metals into our water to begin with. Until then, we now have a way to deal with this dangerous pollution, thanks to our world’s abundance of sea shells.

Rare Sea Shells

In 1997, a curator of the American Museum of Natural History in New York discovered one the museum’s two specimen’s of Chimaeria incomparabilis was missing. The multi-hued mollusks, about 2 1/2 inches long, resemble elongated porcelain eggs. Scientists think they are mostly found in the northwestern Indian Ocean by deepwater fishermen. Only six are known to exist in the entire world.

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Shells As Money

Shell money was once commonly used in many parts of the world. Shell money usually consisted either of whole sea shells or pieces of them, which were often worked into beads or were otherwise artificially shaped. The use of shells in trade began as direct commodity exchange, the shells having value as body ornamentation.

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Seashells; How Many? How Big?

Here are a few interesting facts about the world’s seashells:

How many different kinds of seashells are there?
There are somewhere between 50,000 and 200,000, species of mollusks which have a shell. The exact number depending on who’s counting. These figures are based on the number of species that have been described, which of those are accepted as valid, plus the estimates of undiscovered species remaining on earth.

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