In 1972 studies began on the levels of environmental pollutants in canvasback tissues, eggs, and food items. The purpose of the studies were to determine if the levels of toxic chemicals found in canvasbacks were of the magnitude to cause problems affecting reproduction and survival. Overall, levels of organochlorine pesticides and PCB's were low in canvasbacks and their eggs. Some individual birds, however, laid eggs with elevated residues of DDE (12.1 ppm) or PCB's (28.6 ppm). There was no significant difference between eggshell thicknesses of 1972-73 and pre-1946 collections. About 12% of the canvasbacks analyzed had elevated levels of blood lead with reduced ALAD enzyme activity. Adult canvasbacks collected from the Chesapeake Bay in 1975 had moderate to high levels of cadmium in their kidneys. Cadmium, in excessive amounts is very toxic and can curtail spermatogenesis in male birds. Although no single toxic chemical found in wild canvasbacks appears to be a major factor in population declines, the cumulative effects of sublethal levels of all the pollutants may render birds susceptible to disease, hunting pressure or predation.