Measurement of Persistent Organic Pollutants, Perfluorinated Compounds, and Toxic Metals in the Blood of Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) at Punta San Juan, Peru Using Dried Blood Spots
IAAAM 2019
Michael J. Adkesson1*; Alan Shlosberg
1Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, IL, USA; 2Retired, Kimron Veterinary Institute, Bet Dagan, Israel


The Punta San Juan (PSJ) marine protected area protects the largest breeding colony of endangered Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) in Peru. The health of this population has been monitored since 2007. Exposure to environmental toxicants has been a concern due to growth of regional industries and human populations. Blood samples were collected from 30 free-ranging penguins as part of a broader health assessment project. Samples of whole blood were used to prepare multiple 50 μL dried blood spots (DBS) to assess exposure to five groups of environmental contaminants including toxic elements, organochlorine pesticides (OP), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), and perfluorinated compounds (PF). Persistent organic pollutant (OP, PCB, and PBDE) concentrations were measured using gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry methods as previously described.1 PF concentrations were measured using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry methods as previously described.1 Analysis for arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), and thallium (Tl) was performed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry.1,2 DBS was effective in quantifying whole blood concentrations of environmental contaminants and was an effective method compatible with a field setting. Results of the analyses showed low levels of exposure to environmental contaminants and did not reveal concerns for the health of wildlife at PSJ, although continued monitoring over time is recommended.


The authors thank Marco Cardeña, Susana Cardenas-Alayza, and the biologists who assisted with sample collection. Funding was provided by the Chicago Board of Trade Endangered Species Fund and the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute. We acknowledge the Peruvian government agencies SERNANP for access inside the RNSIIPG-Punta San Juan reserve and AGRORURAL for use of field facilities. Research and samples were collected under permit RJ No. 011-2011-SERNANP-RNSIIPG.

* Presenting author

Literature Cited

1.  Shlosberg A, Wu Q, Rumbeiha WK, Lehner A, Cuneah O, King R, Hatzofe O, Kannan K, Johnson M. 2012. Examination of Eurasian griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus fulvus) in Israel for exposure to environmental toxicants using dried blood spots. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 62:502–11.

2.  Lehner AF, Rumbeiha W, Shlosberg A, Stuart K, Johnson M, Domenech R, Langner H. 2013. Diagnostic analysis of veterinary dried blood spots for toxic heavy metals exposure. J Analytic Toxicol. 37:406–422.


Speaker Information
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Michael J. Adkesson
Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield, IL, USA

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