Can the pollution level of a city be judged by pigeon feathers? Yes, if research done at a university here is to be believed.
According to researchers in the zoology department of the University of Rajasthan, the shed feathers of pigeons can indicate the pollution level of the area they inhabit.
Research scholar Bhumesh Bhadoriya reached the conclusion after three years of study under the guidance of Professor P.P. Bakre.
"It is the first time in the country that bird feathers have been used to assess the pollution level," said Bakre.
The pigeon feathers are first collected and then tested in the laboratory for length and the heavy metals in it. The feathers are chemically tested in nitric and perchloric acid.
Pigeons normally have a fixed habitat in a particular area. The heavy metals in the environment enter the feather, and remain even after they are shed. The feathers are tested in the lab.
Initially, 25 pigeons were caught from different areas. Their feathers were then studied. Several heavy metals such as lead, copper, chromium and cadmium were detected in the feathers, indicating high pollution levels in the city.
During the course of the study, it was found that feathers of pigeons from Sanganeri Gate and Ajmeri Gate of the city had the highest levels of heavy metal pollutants.