A story in the May 29th Skagit Valley Herald features a study by PSI researchers to see if dogs can sniff out chemical contaminants in sewage.
Dogs can tell the difference between human waste and that of other animals, and PSI researchers want to know if they can also identify the presence of human-created chemicals such as ibuprofen and caffeine. The chemicals are part of a large group of compounds known as emerging contaminants that are sometimes used to trace sources of pollution.
Skagit County hopes the dogs will be able to sniff out sewage leaks that are contaminating the local watershed. High readings of fecal coliform have led to numerous shellfish harvest closures in Samish Bay, according to the article, and the problem is widespread throughout Puget Sound. Regulators say bacteria associated with human waste like E. coli and fecal coliform have contributed to the closures of almost 20% of Puget Sound’s commercial shellfish beds and approximately 25% of its swimming beaches.
Read the article.