Pigeons, the “rats of the city,” may not be much to look at, but they could be used to monitor levels of lead and other toxins in cities around the world.

Between 2010 and 2015, HealthDay reports that blood samples from injured or sick pigeons in New York City showed that the pigeons lead levels rose in the summer. This finding correlated with the high levels of lead found in blood samples of children.

As HealthDay reports:

"Zip codes in the city with high lead levels in pigeons also had some of the highest levels of lead in children, the study found.

'Pigeons breathe the same air, walk the same sidewalks, and often eat the same food as we do. What if we could use them to monitor possible dangers to our health in the environment, like lead pollution?' said study leader Rebecca Calisi.”

Using pigeons to monitor health risks isn’t so far fetched. Already in some European cities, pigeons are used to monitor certain types of pollution. Pigeons are fit for monitoring as they spend their lives within a few city blocks of a city. If this works, pigeons could help remodelers, builders, and city leaders identify homes with high blood levels with the help of pigeons.

To read more on this out-of-the-box monitoring system, click below.

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