CMU researchers examin how contaminants in Great Lakes affect mussels

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Central Michigan University researchers are examining how freshwater mussels in the Great Lakes are affected by contaminants.

Biologists are testing the mussels with everyday contaminants found in things like shampoo and toothpaste.

Daelyn Woolnough is a research professor at CMU.

She refers to mussels as the ‘kidneys’ of the Great Lakes – they filter water and remove contaminants… and by examining the mussels, they can learn about the state of the ecosystem.

“They have all the information. They have little growth lines on them sort of like trees. So we can kinda count back the number of years and see what happened you know certain years when there’s been an event. A spill or something.”

Woolnough said she expects to see contaminants having a negative effect on the mussels’ reproductive systems.

“There’s certain pesticides that have been looked at a lot, or salts that have been looked at a lot. But some of the emerging concern ones we know are out there in the water, and in the watershed but we don’t know the possible effects it has on our water, the organisms that live in the water, and therefore potentially how that might feedback into human health of that watershed.”

Woolnough said the research will continue through this fall.