Bioindicators used in aquatic and terrestrial monitoring

Edited by:
David J. Hoffman, Barnett A. Rattner, G. Allen Burton Jr., and John= Cairns Jr.


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A dozen types of bioindicators of contaminant exposure presently used in environmental monitoring are discussed in this chapter. Some have been extensively field-validated and already are in routine application. Included are (1) inhibition of brain or blood cholinesterase by anti-cholinesterase pesticides, (2) induction of hepatic microsomal cytochromes P450 by chemicals such as the PAHs and PCBs, (3) reproductive problems such as terata and eggshell thinning, and (4) aberrations of hemoglobin synthesis, including the effects of lead and certain chlorinated hydrocarbons. Many studies on DNA damage and of histopathological effects, particularly in the form of tumors, have already been completed. Presently, there are numerous other oppor-tunities for field validation. Bile metabolites of contaminants in fish reveal exposure to contaminants that might otherwise be difficult to detect or quantify. Bile analysis is beginning to be extended to species other than fish. Assessment of oxidative damage, immune competence, and vitamin A concentration all appear to be valuable biomarkers, needing only additional field validation for more widespread use. The use of metallothioneins as biomarkers depends on the development of convenient, inexpensive methodology that provides information not available from measurements of metal ions. The use of stress proteins as biomarkers depends on development of convenient, inexpensive methodology and fIeld validation. Several other biomarkers show promise as bioindicators for contaminant exposure or effect, but still need extensive testing or have limited application

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Book chapter
Publication Subtype:
Book Chapter
Bioindicators used in aquatic and terrestrial monitoring
Year Published:
Lewis Publishers
Publisher location:
Boca Raton, Florida
Contributing office(s):
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
x, 755
Larger Work Type:
Larger Work Subtype:
Other Government Series
Larger Work Title:
Handbook of Ecotoxicology
First page:
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