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Ingestion of lead from ammunition and lead concentrations in white-tailed sea eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) in Sweden
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Physiology and Developmental Biology, Environmental Toxicology.
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2009 (English)In: Science of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, E-ISSN 1879-1026, Vol. 407, no 21, 5555-5563 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this study we show for the first time that lead poisoning from ammunition is a significant mortality factor for white-tailed sea eagle (WSE) (Haliaeetus albicilla) in Sweden. We analyzed 118 WSEs collected between 1981 and 2004 from which both liver and kidney samples could be taken. A total of 22% of all eagles examined had elevated (>6 microg/gd.w.) lead concentrations, indicating exposure to leaded ammunition, and 14% of the individuals had either liver or kidney lead concentrations diagnostic of lethal lead poisoning (>20 microg/gd.w.). Lead concentrations in liver and kidney were significantly correlated. In individuals with lead levels <6 microg/g, concentrations were significantly higher in kidney than in liver; in individuals with lead levels >20 microg/g, concentrations were significantly higher in liver. The lead isotope ratios indicate that the source of lead in individuals with lethal concentrations is different from that of individuals exhibiting background concentrations of lead (<6 microg/gd.w.) There were no significant sex or age differences in lead concentrations. A study from the Baltic reported in principle no biomagnification of lead, but background lead concentrations in WSE liver in this study were still four to >10 times higher than concentrations reported for Baltic fish from the same time period. In contrast to other biota there was no decrease in lead concentrations in WSE over the study period. The proportion of lead poisoned WSE remained unchanged over the study period, including two years after a partial ban of lead shot was enforced in 2002 for shallow wetlands. The use of lead in ammunition poses a threat to all raptors potentially feeding on shot game or offal. The removal of offal from shot game and alternatives to leaded ammunition needs to be implemented in order to prevent mortality from lead in raptors and scavengers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 407, no 21, 5555-5563 p.
Keyword [en]
Ammunition, Eagle, Haliaeetus, Lead, Mortality, Poisoning
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-109000DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.07.027ISI: 000271338000016PubMedID: 19683793OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-109000DiVA: diva2:242062
Available from: 2009-10-06 Created: 2009-10-06 Last updated: 2010-06-30Bibliographically approved

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