Rock slime: What is it good for?We’ve all been there. You’re having a nice day playing in the water at your local lake or river, and all of the sudden you slip on a slimy rock! That slick, brownish goop squelches between your toes, and next thing you know, you’re falling backwards into the water.
While most of us may not appreciate the slime that grows on river rocks, Dr. William Hobbs and his colleagues have found this slime useful for investigating the sources of toxic chemicals in the water. This rock slime, known as biofilm, helps scientists measure where toxic chemicals are the most concentrated along a river. Their recently published paper* in the journal Environmental Science and Technology shares more of the slimy details.
Sleuthing out the slime
So far, this source tracking tool has been used to identify the following chemicals in metals.several rivers throughout Washington:
· Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) — legacy industrial chemicals.
· Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) — flame retardant chemicals in household products.
· Metals (copper, zinc, lead, arsenic, and cadmium).
The slime is greener on the other side
|Mayfly nymphs like this |
one are sensitive to
changes in water quality.
In pursuit of cleaner slime
By: Ruth Froese, Environmental Assessment Program Communications
Video by: Ryan Lancaster, Eastern Region Communications
Photos/videos captured by: William Hobbs, PhD
*If you would like to read the full paper, please contact the author:
William Hobbs, PhD