Mallard eggs were externally exposed at 3 and 8 days of incubation to 7 different industrial effluents and to 7 different heavy metal, organic solvent, and petroleum solutions to screen for potential embryo-toxic effects. This route of exposure was chosen in order to simulate the transfer of pollutant from the plumage of aquatic birds to their eggs. Five of the effluents including mineral pigment, scouring effluent, sludge, and tannery effluent resulted in small but significant reductions in embryonic growth. Treatment with methyl mercury chloride solution of 50 ppm (Hg) impaired embryonic growth but much higher concentrations were required to affect survival and cause teratogenic effects. Oil used to suppress road dust was the most toxic of the pollutants tested and only 0.5 microliter/egg caused 60% mortality by 18 days of development. These findings, in combination with other studies suggest that petroleum pollutants, or effluents in combination with petroleum, may pose a hazard to birds' eggs when exposure is by this route.
Additional publication details
Effects of industrial effluents, heavy metals, and organic solvents on mallard embryo development