MONITORING FOR LEAD POLLUTION USING FEATHERS OF FERAL PIGEONS (COLUMBA LIVIA) FROM KOREA

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Abstract

We investigated lead exposure conditions using unwashed feathers of feral pigeons as a monitor for lead pollution from rural, central urban, and four industrial complex areas in Korea with different ambient lead concentrations. Overall, the lead levels in the feathers increased when the atmospheric lead levels increased, so that the lead levels in the feathers from urban and industrial areas were two to four times greater than those in the rural area. However, there are no significant differences in the liver lead concentrations between rural and the other areas, suggesting that the lead originated from ingestion are not differences in locations. A positive correlation was found between the concentration of lead in livers and feathers from rural, indicating that the feather lead concentrations in this area seem to mainly reflect the internal tissue lead through the metabolic process. However, there are no significant correlations in the other areas, and we observed a relatively higher lead accumulation ratio of feathers to livers. It, therefore, indicates that external contamination onto the feather surface may be an important source for lead levels in feathers rather than transfer from internal tissue lead.

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