If you are concerned about environmental issues such as the quality of the air in the community in which you live, or if you have fears about the possible presence of West Nile Virus in your community, take a few cues from nature. Your environment may already be giving you the answers to your questions.
If your neighborhood has several trees that are covered with lichen, chances are that the quality of the air is pretty good. Lichen is the fuzzy looking green growth that covers many rocks and trees in areas that have little air pollution. Lichens are a combination of a fungus and an algae living harmoniously together in a symbiotic relationship. Lichens cannot survive in areas with polluted air because they are very sensitive to air pollution. So chances are, if you see many trees in your location with lichen thriving on them, it is a sign that the surrounding environment is healthy. (See the following for more information http://bangordailynews.com/2009/04/03/living/lichensrsquo-appearance-good-sign-for-gardenrsquos-environmentrsquos-health/.)
As far as West Nile Virus goes, this is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which can be very dangerous. Look at your bird populations in the area, especially birds like crows, blue jays and robins. If you see these particular birds thriving in your area, there is a good chance there are no mosquitos nearby infected with WNV. Bird populations are very susceptible to this disease and do not appear to be the actual cause of the disease, but rather the victims.The infected mosquito bites a bird, transmits the virus, and then the bird becomes a host. Crows are usually the first to be hit by WNV, and the presence of several dead crows in an area is usually an excellent early indicator that there could be a possible threat of West Nile Virus nearby. If you do happen to see dead crows, blue jays or robins in your area, report it to your local health department as soon as possible. (Please refer to article at http://www.knoxcounty.org/health/reportbirds.php for more information.)
If you have either of these environmental concerns, take a look around your neighborhood. You just might find the answers you’ve been seeking.