A Risk Assessment for Consumers of Mourning Doves

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Recreational and subsistence hunters and anglers consume a wide range of species, including birds, mammals, fish and shellfish, some of which represent significant exposure pathways for environmental toxic agents. This study focuses on the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Savannah River Site (SRS), a former nuclear weapons production facility in South Carolina. The potential risk of contaminant intake from consuming mourning doves (Zenaida macroura), the most popular United States game bird, was examined under various risk scenarios. For all of these scenarios we used the mean tissue concentration of six metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, selenium, chromium, manganese) and radiocesium, in doves collected on and near SRS. We also estimated risk to a child consuming doves that had the maximum contaminant level. We used the cancer slope factor for radiocesium, the Environmental Protection Agencies Uptake/Biokinetic model for lead, and published reference doses for the other metals. As a result of our risk assessments we recommend management of water levels in contaminated reservoirs so that lake bed sediments are not exposed to use by gamebirds and other terrestrial wildlife. Particularly, measures should be taken to insure that the hunting public does not have access to such a site. Our data also indicate that doves on popular hunting areas are exposed to excess lead, suggesting that banning lead shot for doves, as has been done for waterfowl, is desirable.

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