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Exclusive jewelry supports environmental monitoring in Greenland

Environmental monitoring ensures that mining does not lead to accumulation of metals in nature

2015.12.01 | Susanna Pakkasmaa

Lis Bach collecting mussels which can be used to monitor the environmental impact of mining.

In Greenland, there is a growing interest in mining, but the extraction of metals must be environmentally sound. It is therefore important to monitor nature to ensure that mining does not lead to accumulation of metals or other unwanted products in nature.

Mussels filter a lot of water and therefore accumulate metals and other particles occurring in the marine environment. Determination of the heavy metal content in mussels is an easy way to get a measure of the amount of pollutants discharged from a mining operation.

Researcher Lis Bach from the Department of Bioscience and Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University, has a long experience in the monitoring of mussels from the waters of Greenland. She has recently discovered that – contrary to previously thought – there are two species of blue mussels in the fjords of Greenland: Mytilus edulis and Mytilus trossulus.

Lis Bach has now with the support of the Royal Court Jeweler P. Hertz initiated a study of the uptake of hazardous substances by these two mussel species and how they are best used in environmental monitoring.

P. Hertz, the oldest jewelry company in Denmark and Purveyor to the Royal Danish Court, has created an exclusive collection of a total of 180 numbered pieces of jewelry to celebrate the company’s 180 years anniversary. The collection is called "To Nature with Love" and the company donates 50% of the proceeds from each piece to the project that is to elucidate the ability of the mussels to “gossip” about environmental conditions.

“For 180 years we have had the responsibility to ensure optimal exploitation of natural resources when we produce jewelry and with this donation we would like to give something back to nature,” says Berit Hertz from P. Hertz.

Aarhus University and the Danish Centre for Environment and Energy advise the Greenland authorities on environmental aspects of mining projects.

“The project, which we now have the means to implement, will be important for the future monitoring of the marine environment around Greenland,” says Lis Bach from Aarhus University.

The project is conducted at a now closed mine on the west coast of Greenland.

Text: Peter Bondo Christensen

Arctic Research Centre
Tags: environmental monitoring, mining, blue mussels, Greenland