Date: 24 Aug 2005

A Risk Assessment Approach to DDE Exposure Based on the Case of the Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) in Apple Orchards of Southern Quebec,Canada

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As part of a larger study assessing exposure of the Eastern screech-owl to pesticides in apple orchards from consumption of contaminated small-mammal prey, we evaluated the potential for owls in orchards of southern Quebec to be exposed to persistent contaminants with emphasis on DDE. Levels were highest in short-tailed shrews (0.94 to 26.29 μg/g wet wt). Based on a worst-case scenario, it is possible that consumption of small-mammal prey in orchards of the study area may result in exposure to DDE at a level associated with significant eggshell thinning; however, consumption of other prey, (e.g., robins) may represent a more important threat. Other organochlorines and persistent contaminants such as trace metals and PCBs, reported elsewhere, were found at negligible levels only. Based on an evaluation of the data used, we identify critical information required to enhance the proposed risk assessment.