High selenium levels found in bird eggs

December 25, 2006

Analysis of the eggs of wild birds in California's San Joaquin Valley appears to show that recycling agricultural runoff is causing high levels of selenium.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is considering expansion of the recycling program, the Los Angeles Times reported. But this year's sampling of eggs found the highest levels of selenium in five years.

The drainage project keeps selenium-tainted water out of the San Joaquin River by using it to irrigate crops that can tolerate high levels of salt. Irrigation builds up levels of selenium and other chemicals that occur naturally by washing them out of the soil.

In the 1980s, water in farm drainage ponds became so toxic that it caused birth defects in birds.

"They have to be extremely careful; that water is so potent, they can't make any mistakes," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Joseph Skorupa. "If they make a mistake, they'll have dead birds."

Joe McGahan, coordinator of the reclamation program, said the high selenium levels could be a one-year spike. He said scientists have found no evidence that birds are dying or being born deformed.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: New study of Barnett Shale area well water finds elevated levels of water contaminants

Related Stories

Scientists trace nanoparticles from plants to caterpillars

December 16, 2014

In one of the most comprehensive laboratory studies of its kind, Rice University scientists traced the uptake and accumulation of quantum dot nanoparticles from water to plant roots, plant leaves and leaf-eating caterpillars.

Health of honey bees adversely impacted by selenium

October 3, 2013

Traditionally, honey bee research has focused on environmental stressors such as pesticides, pathogens and diseases. Now a research team led by entomologists at the University of California, Riverside has published a study ...

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.