Determining the background levels of bismuth in tissues of wild game birds: a first step in addressing the environmental consequences of using bismuth shotshells
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Bismuth shotshells have been approved as a "nontoxic" alternative to lead in North America. Approval was based on a limited number of studies; even background levels of bismuth in wildfowl were unknown. We report on the concentration of bismuth (and lead) in muscle and liver tissues of wildfowl (Anas platyrhynchos, Anas acuta, Anas crecca, Branta canadensis, Chen caerulescens) harvested with lead shotshell. Average liver-bismuth levels detected in the present study (e.g., teal, 0.05 microg/g dw; mallard, 0.09 microg/g dw) suggest analytical error in other studies examining the effects of bismuth in birds. Significant positive relationships between bismuth- and lead-tissue levels for muscle when all species were combined (and for B. canadensis and C. caerulescens separately) can be explained by noting that bismuth is a contaminant of lead. Thus, more research is recommended to confirm the appropriateness of bismuth as a "nontoxic" shot alternative.
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