Blood changes in mallards exposed to white phosphorus

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
By: , and 



White phosphorus (P4) has been extensively used by the military for various purposes, including marking artillery impacts and as an obscurant. Target practice in an Alaskan tidal marsh during the last 4 decades has deposited large amounts of P4 particles in sediments and water, which have resulted in die-offs of several waterfowl species. Because the toxicity of P4 in birds has not been well documented and because it is quickly excreted or metabolized in living animals, we sought to determine the effects of experimental dosing on blood characteristics in game farm mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). In two experiments, one employing single doses of 5.4 mg P4 per kilogram body weight in corn oil and the other using daily repeated doses of pelletized P4 at either 0.5 or 1.0 mg/kg, there were significant changes in aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), inorganic P, hematocrit, and hemoglobin. Other indications of exposure included changes in uric acid, creatinine, and total protein, which were consistent with reported liver and kidney damage due to this contaminant. Changes in white blood cells included a greater frequency of thrombocytes and fewer lymphocytes in dosed birds compared to controls. A biomarker of exposure based on LDH activity and hemoglobin is proposed.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Blood changes in mallards exposed to white phosphorus
Series title Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
DOI 10.1002/etc.5620171221
Volume 17
Issue 12
Year Published 1998
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 9 p.
First page 2521
Last page 2529
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