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Environmental monitoring and assessment

Small mammals as biomonitors of metal pollution: a case study in Slovenia.


PMID 24619365

Abstract

The transfer of lead, cadmium, zinc, mercury, copper and molybdenum from soil to the tissues of small mammals inhabiting differently polluted areas in Slovenia was investigated. Metals were determined in soil samples and in the livers of 139 individuals of five small mammal species, collected in 2012 in the vicinity of a former lead smelter, the largest Slovenian thermal power plant, along a main road and in a control area. The area in the vicinity of former lead smelter differs considerably from other study areas. The soil from that area is heavily polluted with Pb and Cd. The mean metal concentrations in the liver, irrespective of species, varied in the following ranges-Pb: 0.40-7.40xa0mg/kg fw and Cd: 0.27-135xa0mg/kg fw and reached effect concentrations at which toxic effects can be expected in a significant proportion of the livers of the small mammal specimens (Pb 40xa0%, Cd 67xa0%). These findings indicate that the majority of small mammals trapped in the area of the former lead smelter are at risk of toxic effects due to the very high bioaccumulation of Pb and Cd in the organism. On the contrary, Pd and Cd concentrations in the livers of small mammals sampled in the vicinity of the thermal power plant and along the main road were comparable with reference values and considerably lower than effect concentrations. Additionally, the study suggests that Apodemus flavicollis and Myodes glareolus are very suitable biomonitors of metal pollution.

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