Toys and children's jewelry may contain metals to which children can be orally exposed. The objectives of this research were (1) to determine total concentrations (TC's) of As, Ba, Cd, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sb, and Se in toys and jewelry (n = 72) bought on the North American market and compare TC's to regulatory limits, and (2) to estimate oral metal bioavailability in selected items (n = 4) via bioaccessibility testing. For metallic toys and children's jewelry (n = 24) 20 items had TC's exceeding migratable concentration limits (European Union). Seven of seventeen jewelry items did not comply with TC limits in U.S. and Canadian regulations. Samples included articles with very high Cd (37% [w/w]), Pb (65%), and Cu (71%) concentrations. For plastic toys (n = 18), toys with paint or coating (n = 12), and brittle or pliable toys (n = 18), TC's were below the EU migration limits (except in one toy for each category). Bioaccessibility tests showed that a tested jewelry item strongly leached Pb (gastric: 698 µg, intestinal: 705 µg) and some Cd (1.38 and 1.42 µg). Especially in metallic toys and jewelry, contamination by Pb and Cd, and to a lesser extent by Cu, Ni, As, and Sb, still poses an acute problem in North America.
Mining of Cu took place in Kvalsund in the Arctic part of Norway in the 1970s, and mine tailings were discharged to the inner part of the fjord, Repparfjorden. Metal speciation analysis was used to assess the historical dispersion of metals as well as their potential bioavailability from the area of the mine tailing disposal. It was revealed that the dispersion of Ba, Cr, Ni, Pb and Zn from the mine tailings has been limited. Dispersion of Cu to the outer fjord has, however, occurred; the amounts released and dispersed from the mine tailing disposal area quantified to be 2.5-10 t, less than 5% of Cu in the original mine tailings. An estimated 80-390 t of Cu still remains in the disposal area from the surface to a depth of 16 cm. Metal partitioning showed that 56-95% of the Cu is bound in the potential bioavailable fractions (exchangeable, reducible and oxidisable) of the sediments, totalling approximately 70-340 t, with potential for continuous release to the pore water and re-precipitation in over- and underlying sediments. Surface sediments in the deposit area were affected by elevated Cu concentrations just above the probable effect level according to the Norwegian sediment quality criteria, with 50-80% Cu bound in the exchangeable, reducible and oxidisable fractions, potentially available for release to the water column and/or for uptake in benthic organisms.
We examined the degree of exposure of lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), and several organohalogen contaminants and its potential impact on survival of bald eagles in Ontario from 1991 to 2008. Overall, results for 43 dead or dying bald eagles collected in the province indicate that 23% (10/43) of birds died of Pb poisoning and 9% (4/43) died of suspected Hg poisoning. Pb poisoning was diagnosed based on exceedances of toxicity thresholds in liver and kidney and supported by clinical observations, necropsy results, and histology findings when available. Evidence for Hg poisoning in eagles was limited; however, Hg concentrations exceeded the toxicity threshold in kidney. Pb concentrations ranged widely in liver and kidney. Total Hg concentrations were relatively higher in kidney compared with liver and were significantly correlated with selenium (Se) concentrations in both tissues. Concentrations of p,p'-DDE and sum PCBs in livers of 12 bald eagles collected from 2001 to 2004 were likely below concentrations associated with adverse effects. Hepatic concentrations of total polybrominated diphenyl ethers were generally higher in birds collected from southern Ontario compared with northern Ontario. Potential impacts of exposure to these flame retardants and others are not known. Elevated metal exposure appears to influence survivorship and may affect the recovery of bald eagles in the province, particularly in southern Ontario and along the Great Lakes where a disproportionate number of poisoned eagles were collected. Increased efforts are needed to identify sources of exposure and develop measures to reduce metal exposure in this top predator.