The US Environmental Protection Agency conducts risk assessments of insecticide applications to wild birds using a model that is limited to the dietary route of exposure. However, free-flying birds are also exposed to insecticides via the inhalation and dermal routes. We measured azinphos-methyl residues on the skin plus feathers and the feet of brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater) in order to quantify dermal exposure to songbirds that entered and inhabited an apple (Malus x domestica) orchard following an insecticide application. Exposure to azinphos-methyl was measured by sampling birds from an aviary that was built around an apple tree. Birds sampled at 36 h and 7-day post-application were placed in the aviary within 1 h after the application whereas birds exposed for 3 days were released into the aviary 4-day post-application. Residues on vegetation and soil were also measured. Azinphos-methyl residues were detected from the skin plus feathers and the feet from all exposure periods. Our results underscore the importance of incorporating dermal exposure into avian pesticide risk assessments.
Additional publication details
Dermal insecticide residues from birds inhabiting an orchard