USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center Project: Exposure of Wildlife to Metals at NRDA and Other Contaminated Sites

Statement of Problem: The Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District (SEMOLMD) has been mined for a hundred years and has the largest source of lead ore in the U.S. As a result of mining and smelting, the land and water within the District has become contaminated with hazardous substances. In SEMOLMD, lead is the contaminant that is most likely to be toxic to migratory birds, although zinc, cadmium and possibly other metals associated with the ores are possibly toxic. In a previous study, Niethammer et al. (1985) found that bullfrogs, muskrats and green-backed herons from the area had elevated concentrations of lead and zinc compared to those animals collected from reference sites. Schmitt et al. (2009) found that lead and cadmium were elevated in tissues of northern hog suckers collected in areas contaminated by the mining. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pursuing a Natural Resource Damage Assessment in SEMOLMD and wants to know whether injury to avian trust resources has occurred.

Objectives: 1) To determine whether migratory birds have been injured from releases of lead or other metals related to mining in the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District. 2) To relate any injury detected to soil and sediment contamination at the sites.
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