Mercury poisoning in wildlife

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Edited by: Anne FairbrotherLouis N. Locke, and Gerald L. Hoff


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Mercury is an intriguing contaminant because it has complex chemical properties, a wide range of harmful effects, and an infinite persistence in the environment. Die-offs of wildlife due to mercury have occurred in many countries, especially before mercury seed dressings were banned. Today, most mercury problems are associated with aquatic environments. Methylmercury, the most toxic chemical form, attacks many organ systems, but damage to the central nervous system is most severe. Harmful wet-weight concentrations of mercury, as methylmercury, in the tissues of adult birds and mammals range from about 8-30 ppm in the brain, 20-60 ppm in liver, 20-60 ppm in kidney, and 15-30 ppm in muscle. Young animals may be more sensitive.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Mercury poisoning in wildlife
Year Published 1996
Language English
Publisher Iowa State University Press
Publisher location Ames
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description xiii, 219
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Other Government Series
Larger Work Title Noninfectious diseases of wildlife
First page 118
Last page 127