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Effects on tree swallows exposed to dioxin-like compounds associated with the Tittabawassee River and floodplain near Midland, Michigan, USA

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Abstract

Concentrations of dioxin-like compounds, primarily polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), in soils and sediments downstream of Midland, Michigan (USA) were greater than upstream sites and prompted a site-specific hazard assessment of tree swallows breeding in the associated floodplains. Potential for adverse population-level effects from site-specific contaminant exposures were evaluated at study areas (SAs) along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers downstream of Midland. The site-specific multiple lines of evidence approach to hazard assessment included endpoints for dietary- and tissue-based exposures, and population productivity measurements for tree swallows ([TS]; Tachycineta bicolor) measured during the 2005, 2006, and 2007 breeding seasons. Exposure to dioxin-like compounds in TS eggs were some of the greatest recorded and were similar among all upstream and downstream study sites. Conversely, concentrations in nestlings from SAs were significantly greater compared to reference areas (RAs). The pattern of relative concentrations of PCDD/DFs in eggs and nestlings at RAs was dominated by dioxin congeners, whereas at SAs it was dominated by furan congeners. No statistically significant differences were noted in exposure to PCDD/DFs or in population-level responses when compared among locations, and total clutch failures were rare. Hatching success and fledging success were weakly negatively correlated with concentrations of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin equivalents (TEQs) in individual eggs and nestlings, respectively. On-site concentrations of TEQs in floodplain soils were some of the greatest ever reported in the environment, and several lines of evidence indicate potential population-level effects on TS overall reproductive productivity. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011; 30:1354–1365. © 2011 SETAC

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