Seagull blood shows promise for monitoring pollutants from oil spills

Jan 14, 2008
Seagull blood shows promise for monitoring pollutants from oil spills
Seagull blood shows promise for monitoring pollutants from oil spills in marine environments.Courtesy of Alberto Velando, Universidade de Vigo, Spain

Like the proverbial coal miners’ canary-in-the-cage, seagulls may become living sentinels to monitor oil pollution levels in marine environments, report scientists in Spain. Their study is scheduled for the Feb. 1 issue of ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology.

In the study, Alberto Velando and colleagues note that researchers have known for years that large oil spills can increase levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in marine environments.

Studies have linked these compounds to cancer in humans. While oil spills quickly kill large numbers of seabirds and other animals, scientists do not fully understand the non-lethal biological effects of these spills, the Spanish researchers say.

The researchers measured PAH levels in the blood of Yellow-legged gulls living in the vicinity of the oil spill caused by the 2002 shipwreck of the Prestige, one of Europe’s largest oil spills. Gulls exposed to the oil showed twice the levels of PAHs in their blood than unexposed birds, even though these levels were measured 17 months after the initial spill, the researchers say. The findings “give support to the nondestructive use of seabirds as biomonitors of oil pollution in marine environments,” the article states.

Source: ACS

Explore further: Researchers develop models to study polyelectrolytes, including DNA and RNA

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

The fluorescent fingerprint of plastics

16 hours ago

LMU researchers have developed a new process which will greatly simplify the process of sorting plastics in recycling plants. The method enables automated identification of polymers, facilitating rapid separation ...

Water and sunlight the formula for sustainable fuel

20 hours ago

An Australian National University (ANU) team has successfully replicated one of the crucial steps in photosynthesis, opening the way for biological systems powered by sunlight which could manufacture hydrogen ...

Rice chemist wins 'Nobel Prize of Cyprus'

20 hours ago

Rice University organic chemist K.C. Nicolaou has earned three prestigious international honors, including the Nemitsas Prize, the highest honor a Cypriot scientist can receive and one of the most prestigious ...

User comments : 0