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Assessment of Exposure to and Effect of Organochlorine Pesticides on Birds in India

V. Dhananjayan, S Jayakumar, S. Muralidharan


Effects of pesticides on birds have been well documented in many European and North American countries. Although we have some information on the levels of persistent environmental contaminants in many species of birds in India, due to lack of adequate data, we are unable to make any direct correlation with the reported population decline. Of all the birds, levels of DDT, HCH and dieldrin recorded in some of the species were indicative of poisoning. Although varying levels of many persistent pesticides have been documented, the levels were not indicative of either food chain build up or poisoning. However, the residue levels recorded were higher than the concentration reported in some other parts of the world. Further, even though a very high level of lead indicative of poisoning was observed, it cannot account for the massive reduction that the species have witnessed. However, such levels have to be viewed with concern. In India, unfortunately, no historical data on the levels of organochlorine pesticides are available in any species of birds. Birds, by virtue of their position in the food chain, serve as an excellent indicator of the environmental problem in a better fashion than the other components of the ecosystem. It is needless to say that birds are one of the worst affected non-target organisms. Hence, the continual monitoring of persistent chemicals is very essential.

Keywords: Birds, organochlorine pesticides, impact on birds, India

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