The Blob Eating DC: Mysterious black biofilm crawls over famous monuments in Washington, staggering scientists desperate to stop its spread
- Black spots grow on the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and other famous landmarks in the US capital
- They are caused by biofilm – swarms of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae
- The National Park Service is spending $ 8.7 million to remove the lasers film
- Scientists are baffled about how and why the film is spreading fast
A mysterious outbreak of black biofilm accelerates its creep over major monuments in Washington, DC, staggering scientists desperately to stop the spread.
Black spots resulting from the biofilm consisting of bacteria, fungi and algae have appeared at the Jefferson Memorial, a shrine at the Arlington National Cemetery, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and other famous landmarks around the capital, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.
The National Park Service has started removing the biofilm from the Jefferson Memorial, while researchers are trying to figure out how and why it got there.
& # 39; We have never seen it before. Now it's everywhere, & # 39; National Park Service told historic architect Audrey Tepper, who leads the cleanup, the LA Times.
More than $ 8.7 million has been invested in lasers that methodically burn the white marble of the monument and remove black spots that first caught the eye in the mid-2000s.
The process is annoying – it takes an hour to clean two square feet.
& # 39; It's almost like cleaning with a toothbrush, & # 39; said construction manager Keith Ramsay.
Experts say there is no guarantee that the biofilm will not grow back after the restoration has been completed.
The National Park Service has invested $ 8.7 million in attempts to remove a mysterious black biofilm from the surface of the Jefferson Memorial (photo)
The outbreak of biofilm accelerates its creep over various important monuments in the capital
Biofilm is a broad term for swarms of microorganisms that can take many forms in many different environments for reasons that remain unclear in the scientific community. Common examples are plaque and mucus that covers river rocks.
NASA recently conducted an extensive investigation into biofilm after it was detected in the wastewater pipes of the international space station and threatened to corrode the structure.
Biofilm is also a threat to hospitals, which is believed to contribute to tens of thousands of deaths in patients each year by infecting medical equipment and causing infections.
However, given its diversity, scientists have reason to believe that it is also likely to be used positively.
Biofilm is a broad term for swarms of microorganisms that can take many forms in many different environments for reasons that remain unclear in the scientific community. A close-up of biofilm at the Jefferson Memorial can be seen above
Experts use lasers to burn the black spots of the white marble of the monument
There are a few different theories about the cause of the Washington outbreak.
Researchers had seen pollution as a possible culprit, but Tepper noted that the growth of the biofilm increased as air quality improved.
& # 39; The contamination may have helped to clean it, & # 39; she said.
A similar theory speculates that climate change can be to blame, because increasingly intensive ultraviolet rays can promote growth.
Yet another theory suggests that the biofilm has always been there, but it becomes increasingly noticeable as the memorial decays.
& # 39; Nothing is excluded, & # 39; said Judy Jacob, a senior curator of Park Service who investigates outbreaks of biofilm in the Northeast, told the LA Times. & # 39; Everything is possible. & # 39;
Experts say there is no guarantee that the biofilm will not grow back after the restoration has been completed
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