Abstract # 94:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 20, 2009 10:30 AM-10:40 AM: Session 8 (Shell Room) Oral Presentation


L. Jones-Engel1, G. A. Engel1,2, T. Cardona-Marek3, M. Chalise4, J. Heidrich5, R. C. Kyes1 and T. O'Hara3
1Washington National Primate Res. Ctr., University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA, 2Swedish Hospital, 3Wildlife Toxicology Laboratory, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 4Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu Nepal, 5Town and Country Animal Hospital, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Various animal populations have been proposed as “sentinels” for human (Homo sapien) exposure to toxicants present in the environment. These “canaries in the coal mine” can potentially help to identify toxic threats to both public health and wildlife populations. The utility of an animal population as a sentinel depends on many factors including its genetic, physiological and behavioral characteristics and how closely its ecological niche mirrors that of commensal human populations. In Asia, macaques (Macaca spp.), flourish in many urban habitats. We measured lead and mercury levels in hair from 37 macaques at the Swoyambhu temple in Nepal . We also determined stable isotope signatures (15N and 13C). Lead concentrations in hair from the Swoyambhu macaques averaged approximately 4.5 ppm, with a maximum concentration of 10.2 ppm and minimum of 1.34 ppm. Lead concentrations in hair were significantly higher for young macaques [6.00±1.54ppm] compared with older animals [3.57±1.36ppm; F(1,31)=21.9, p<.0001]. No statistical association between lead level and stable isotope concentrations of C and N were found. Hair mercury levels were low. Hair lead levels have been shown to parallel blood lead levels, and thus provide a potential alternative to blood as a matrix for sampling lead. Our data suggest that demographic/behavioral variables are associated with lead exposure in the Swoyambhu macaques and that young macaques may be good sentinels for human exposure to lead.