The Science of the total environment | 2019
Lead exposure biomarkers in the Common Loon.
Lead in fishing tackle is a significant source of exposure to the environment, wildlife, and potentially humans. Common Loons (Gavia immer) are exposed to lead by eating fish which have lead tackle, or ingesting fishing weights or spent ammunition when they ingest small stones to aid in digestion. Blood lead is traditionally used as a biomarker of exposure in loons, but it only reflects recent exposures. Cumulative exposure measured via bone lead may better reflect the overall health of loons and their aquatic habitat. This study compared a portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) device for measurement of bone lead with and without tissue overlying the bone on loon cadavers with measurements made by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) of different tissues from the loons. For this study we had 75 bone samples, 19 body fluid samples, and 17 liver lead samples. We found significant correlations between portable XRF bone lead measurements made with overlying tissue and ICP-MS measures of bone lead (R\u202f=\u202f0.88), body fluid lead (R\u202f=\u202f0.65), and liver lead (R\u202f=\u202f0.71). Bone lead was found to be higher in loons collected from non-coastal regions. In assessing lead-related cause of death, bone lead proved more predictive than liver lead. Future studies should investigate the value of these biomarkers for both aquatic health and loon health to further validate our findings.