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Illinois river otters exposed to chemicals banned decades ago
Date:10/19/2013

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Researchers report that river otters in Central Illinois are being exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticides that were banned in the U.S. in the 1970s and '80s.

Their analysis appears in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources collected 23 river otters between 2009 and 2011, after the animals were incidentally killed (hit by cars or accidentally caught in traps, for example). The agency passed the carcasses along to researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) for analysis, and the University of Illinois Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory conducted autopsies.

As part of this effort, the research team, led by wildlife technical assistant Samantha Carpenter and wildlife veterinary epidemiologist Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, both with the natural history survey, and U. of I. animal sciences professor Jan Novakofski, looked at liver concentrations of 20 organohalogenated compounds once used in agriculture and industry (all but one of which were later banned). Andreas Lehner, of Michigan State University, conducted the toxicological tests.

The researchers were surprised to find that average concentrations of one of the compounds they analyzed, dieldrin -- an insecticide (and byproduct of the pesticide aldrin) that was used across the Midwest before it was banned in 1987 -- exceeded those measured in eight river otters collected in Illinois from 1984 to 1989.

Liver concentrations of PCBs and DDE (the latter a breakdown product
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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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