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Environ Pollut. 1987;46(4):263-95.

The chronic toxicity of aluminium, cadmium, mercury, and lead in birds: a review.

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  • 1Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0E7.


The toxicity of chronic dietary metal exposure in birds is reviewed. It is concluded that significant physiological and biochemical responses to such exposure conditions occur at dietary metal concentrations insufficient to cause signs of overt toxicity. Particularly important are reproductive effects which include decreased egg production, decreased hatchability, and increased hatchling mortality. Young, growing birds are typically more sensitive to the toxic effects of chronic metal exposure than adults, and altricial species are often more sensitive than precocial species. Factors which modify the absorption and toxicity of heavy metals, such as Se for the case of Hg, and Ca for the case of Pb and Cd, are discussed. Monitoring strategies for assessing environmental metal exposure in birds are evaluated.

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