Green Slime on the Taj Mahal

AGRA, India — As if the air and water pollution endangering one of the world’s most iconic buildings weren’t enough, the Taj Mahal has been beset by slime-emitting bugs that thrive on the algae blooms brought about by an increase in raw sewage in the Yamuna River.

The New York Times writes:

The green secretions on the back wall of the Taj Mahal, a residue of the chlorophyll the insects consume, are not themselves harmful to the monument beyond the discoloration, said Girish Maheshwari, the head of the department of entomology at St. John’s College in Agra, who analyzed the problem for the Archaeological Survey of India. But the explosive numbers of the insects — called Goeldichironomus — were an alarming indication of how polluted the river has become, he said, since their eggs thrive on phosphorus and sediment in the water. And he worried over the “highly synchronized” swarm of insects that descend on the monument in the evening.

The green slime can be cleaned from the monument’s walls, but an expert with the archaeological survey said it was “very challenging” to deal with the task on a daily basis.

My fingers are crossed that they figure it out sooner rather than later.

[The Taj Mahal as seen from across the Yamuna River. Photo by Bruno J. Navarro]

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