The heron that laid the golden egg: metals and metalloids in ibis, darter, cormorant, heron, and egret eggs from the Vaal River catchment, South Africa
Van der Schyff, V.
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Metal pollution issues are afforded the highest priority in developing countries. Only one previous study has addressed metals in African bird eggs. We determined the concentration of metals and metalloids in bird eggs from four sites in the Vaal River catchment (VRC) of South Africa to provide data on the current situation. We analysed 16 pools of 77 heron, ibis, darter, egret, and cormorant eggs for 18 metals and metalloids using ICP-MS. We found high concentrations of gold (Au), uranium (U), thallium (Tl), and platinum (Pt) in Grey Heron eggs from Baberspan. Great white egrets from Bloemhof Dam had high concentrations of mercury (Hg). Multivariate analyses revealed strong associations between Au and U, and between palladium (Pd) and Pt. The toxic reference value (TRV) for Hg was exceeded in seven pools. Selenium exceeded its TRV in one pool; in the same pool, copper (Cu) reached its TRV. Compared with other studies, VRC bird eggs had high concentrations of contaminants. Based on these high concentrations, human health might be at risk as Grey Herons and humans share similar food and are therefore exposed to the same contaminants