Date: 30 Jul 2014

Biomonitoring of heavy metals (Cd, Hg, and Pb) and metalloid (As) with the Portuguese common buzzard (Buteo buteo)

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Abstract

The accumulation of heavy metals in the environment may have a wide range of health effects on animals and humans. Thus, in this study, the concentrations of arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), and mercury (Hg) in the blood and tissues (liver and kidney) of Portuguese common buzzards (Buteo buteo) were determined by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) in order to monitor environmental pollution to these elements. In general, Hg and As were the elements which appeared in the highest and lowest concentrations, respectively. A highest percentage of non-detected concentration was found for blood Cd (94.6 %) but, in turn, it was the only metal that was detected in all kidney samples. The kidney was the analyzed sample which showed the highest concentrations of each element evaluated. Statistically, significant differences among blood, liver, and kidney samples were observed for As and Cd (P < 0.05). Cd concentrations in kidney and liver varied significantly with age: Adults showed higher hepatic and renal Cd concentrations than juveniles. Blood Pb concentration seems to show an association with the hunting season. Although raptors are at the top of the food chain and are thus potentially exposed to any biomagnification processes that may occur in a food web, the individuals evaluated in this study generally had low levels of heavy metals in blood and tissues. However, chronic exposure to these metals was verified. The results presented here lend weight to arguments in favor of continuous biomonitoring of metals and metalloids, since heavy metals may accumulate to levels that will pose a risk to both human health and the environment.