Venice’s Grand Canal’s bright green material has been discovered.

Venice's Grand Canal's bright green material has been discovered.

Venice’s Grand Canal’s bright green material has been discovered. The Italian government has identified a material that may have contributed to the discoloration of the water in Venice’s canals.

Over the weekend, a section of the Grand Canal in Venice suddenly turned a stunning green, prompting an inquiry. The governor of Veneto, Luca Zaia, said there was no longer any threat of contamination after samples were taken by firemen and analyzed by the local environmental protection agency.

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Fluorescein, a non-toxic tinting chemical typically used in eye exams, was found in the water samples.

Two hundred fifty grams of fluorescein is all that is needed “to produce the effect seen on Sunday,” according to the local newspaper La Nuova Venezia. As the saying goes, “A person who pours a teaspoon, not seeing the result immediately, can dissolve an excessive dose.”

Someone put fluorescein in the Grand Canal of Venice, right?

The individual or people responsible for coloring the water in Italy have not been identified by authorities.

Locals, media, and city officials have all speculated that it’s a protest against climate change. Andrea Pegoraro, a city council member, told Pro Magzine that eco-terrorists have been attacking historic buildings in Italy for the past few months.

Ultima Generazione (Last Generation) is one such group that has denied involvement in a statement to Pro Magzine. They have done things like stick themselves to the frame of a Botticelli artwork and dump diluted charcoal into the Trevi Fountain in Rome, turning it black, to get people’s attention and urge Italian officials to safeguard and maintain the environment as carefully as they do art. Two activists poured mud over themselves this week outside the Italian Senate to draw attention to the devastating floods in the region of Emilia Romagna, which have been exacerbated by global warming.

In 1968, fluorescein dye caused the Grand Canal in Venice to become green.

As an act of environmental protest, dying the canals of Venice fluorescent green has been done before. Argentine eco-artist Nicolás Garca Uriburu dyed the Grand Canal in Venice on June 19, 1968. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “The action, which altered the appearance of the Italian city for one day, aimed to bring attention to the relationship between nature and civilization and to promote ecological consciousness as a critical part of the culture.”

The East River in New York, the Seine in Paris, the Rio de la Plata in Buenos Aires, and the Grand Canal in Venice were all colored green by Uriburu in 1970 as part of an expanded version of this project.

Remember when the Olympic pool in Rio went green in 2016? It wasn’t because of fluorescein.

It was “due to a proliferation of algae caused by heat and lack of wind” that the pool water at the 2016 Olympics went from brilliant blue to murky green. The growth of algae was also proposed as a possible explanation for the Venice Canal’s discoloration, however, water samples disproved this theory.

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