Help us develop our program and catalyze critical ocean literacy by donating below

Skip to navigation Skip to main content


5. A Bivalve Sentinel and Chemical pollution in the Lagoon



Admission fee
Free of charge

Reservation is required at this link.


6.30PM: at San Giuliano tram stop, Mestre.

With the itinerant conversations of the cycle “Cohabiting Within Wetness,” the third chapter of the project “Venice as a model for the future?” developed by TBA21–Academy for its Ocean Space, we direct our eyes and walks toward the localized action of organisms and phenomena often disregarded, yet fundamental for the balance of this ecosystem.

The project “Venice as a model for the future?” was initiated in 2020 and is curated by Barbara Casavecchia and Pietro Consolandi. “Cohabiting Within Wetness” is part of the three-year research cycle The Current III—“Mediterraneans: ‘Thus waves come in pairs’ (after Etel Adnan)," led by Barbara Casavecchia.

5. A Bivalve Sentinel and Chemical pollution in the Lagoon

The iconic Philippine clam (Venerupis philippinarum, also locally known as caparozzolo), a marine bivalve that has colonized the lagoon and many river deltas in northern Italy, is a special creature: it has the ability to filter out every element present in the water, and thus to evolve in accordance to the water’s chemical compounds. This is why it can be used by researchers as a sensor, able to testify—through its DNA—what passes through a given point in the body of water it inhabits.

This became evident in the lagoon in 2021, when genetic mutations were found in the immune response, nervous system, or metabolism of clams in response to pollution by C6O4, a new chemical produced by Solvay and widely used throughout the area as a replacement for PFAS (perfluoro alkyl substances) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). It is thanks to the study of these mollusks that it was possible to verify how C6O4 has contaminated the lagoon, as well as several underground aquifers and the Po River.

Together with Massimo Milan, Associate Professor at the University of Padua and an expert on these issues, we move toward the industrialized areas of the Venetian hinterland, looking out over the lagoon where the clams, as true “ecological sentinels” of the ecosystem, live.


6.30PM meeting at San Giuliano tram stop, Mestre. Departure for “Cohabiting Within Wetness. Venice as a model for the future?”

Participation is free, please make a reservation at this link. Limited places available.

We remind you that transport via bus is at the expense of participants.


Massimo Milan obtained his Master's degree in Biotechnology for Food Safety at the University of Padua in 2006. Subsequently, he started his PhD in Animal Ethology and Ecology at the University of Florence. His PhD project aimed at developing new genomic tools for ecotoxicological investigations in bivalve molluscs. In particular, the main objective of the project was to study clam populations living in the Venice lagoon and their response to chemical pollution. In March 2022, he was appointed Associate Professor at the Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science (University of Padova). At present, hia main projects concern: i) host-microbiota interactions in bivalve species in response to emerging contaminants; ii) investigation of mortality events recently observed along the Adriatic coast; iii) application of molecular analyses to marine species for environmental risk assessment; iv) monitoring of the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the wastewater of the Venice lagoon. All the activities described above have led to the publication of 55 scientific articles in international journals.


“Cohabiting Within Wetness” is part of TBA21–Academy’s program, The Current III: The Mediterraneans: “Thus waves come in pairs” (After Etel Adnan), led by Barbara Casavecchia.

The Current III is a transdisciplinary program of perception, listening, thought and learning that supports projects, collective education, and voices on the shores of the Mediterranean through art, culture, science, and activism.