Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 449-454

First online:

The effects of poly chlorinated biphenyls and methylmercury, singly and in combination on mink. II: Reproduction and kit development

  • C. D. WrenAffiliated withInstitute for Environmental Studies, University of Toronto
  • , D. B. HunterAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College
  • , J. F. LeatherlandAffiliated withDepartment of Zoology, University of Guelph
  • , P. M. StokesAffiliated withInstitute for Environmental Studies, University of Toronto

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Adult ranch-bred mink (Mustela vison) were fed diets containing either 0, 1.0 μg/g polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) (Aroclor® 1254), 1.0 μg/g methylmercury (MeHg), a combination of 1.0 μg/g PCB plus 1.0 μg/g MeHg, or 0.5 μg/g PCB plus 0.5 μg/g MeHg. Fertility of adult male mink, percentage of females whelped or number of kits born per female were not affected by the treatments. However, growth rate of kits nursed by mothers exposed to 1.0 μg/g PCB was significantly reduced. There was a synergistic effect of PCB and MeHg which reduced kit survival in groups receiving both chemicals simultaneously. Kit survival to weaning in the control, 0.5 μg/g PCB/MeHg, and 1.0 μg/g PCB/MeHg groups was 72.0%, 62.7% and 35.8%, respectively. The results suggest that growth and survival of mink kits are adversely affected at dietary levels of PCB and MeHg currently present in some environments.