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What is a miner's canary?

Learn what a miner's canary is and how it helps miners.

Canaries can detect toxins in the air. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Canaries can detect toxins in the air.

Both mice and birds have been used by miners to test the purity of the air in the mines.

A canary or two carried in a small cage will show signs of distress in the presence of carbon monoxide more quickly than humans will, thus alerting the miner to toxic air.

This method of safety was used prior to the development of the more sophisticated equipment used today.

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