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Stability of Mercury Concentrations in Frozen Avian Blood Samples


It is unclear whether mercury concentration in wildlife tissues changes appreciably after lengthy frozen storage. To test whether such freezer-archived samples are stable, small (~10–50 μL) avian blood samples stored in capped glass capillary tubes were analyzed for total mercury concentration, and then reanalyzed after being frozen for up to 3 years. Mercury concentrations increased 6% on average over the 3 year period, but time spent frozen explained only 11% of the variation between measurements. This small amount of change suggests that archived blood samples remain useful for at least several years.

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We thank the South River Science Team. Funding was provided by E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company, The Office of Vice Provost for Research at the College of William and Mary, National Science Foundation Grant UBM 0436318, and the William and Mary Undergraduate Science Education and Research Program sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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Correspondence to Claire W. Varian-Ramos.

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Varian-Ramos, C.W., Condon, A.M., Hallinger, K.K. et al. Stability of Mercury Concentrations in Frozen Avian Blood Samples. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 86, 159–162 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-010-0164-0

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  • Avian blood
  • Temporal stability
  • Mercury
  • Tissue storage