DDE in birds: Lethal residues and loss rates

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Abstract

Lethal brain residues of DDE2 were determined experimentally in four species of wild birds given dietary dosage of 1,500 ppm DDE until one-half had died, then sacrificing the survivors, chemically analyzing the tissues, and comparing results in dead birds and survivors. In all species, residues of 300 to 400 ppm of DDE in the brain were considered to show increasing likelihood of death from DDE, confirming results of an earlier study with a single species. Body residues (ppm wet weight) were not diagnostic, overlapping grossly in dead birds and survivors, but averaging higher in survivors. Body residues (ppm lipid base), however, were higher in dead birds and did not overlap those in survivors.

Loss rate was followed in grackles fed 1,500 ppm DDE for 7 days, then given untreated feed and sacrificed at intervals of 7, 28, 56, and 112 days. DDE was lost slowly from the bodies, at a rate of 0.30% per day (estimated half-life 229 days). DDE was lost more rapidly from brains, half of the initial concentration being reached in 25 days; concentrations in brains increased thereafter in close correlation with percentage of fat in the body.