Lead poisoning remains a persistent health issue for both humans and wildlife, despite strides to reduce lead contamination in the environment. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), this study explores the associations between blood lead levels (BLLs) in wildlife sentinels and possible built environment lead exposure risk factors in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota urban area. Results show a high-level of heterogeneity in animal BLLs (n = 472) across our urban environment and suggest that each kilometer increase in road density is associated with a 17.07% (95% CI: 1.48%, 35.05%) increase in BLL in our study species of Virginia opossums and Eastern gray squirrels, and a 14.28% (95% CI: 1.16%, 29.09%) increase in BLL of rock pigeons. For squirrels and opossums, we see an additional 5.72% (95% CI: 0.59%, 10.85%) increased risk of BLL for every 1000 people per square-mile. The relationship between animal sentinels and environmental hazards can give us an insight into the potential lead exposure risks for humans. The use of wildlife sentinel data to explore environmental risk factors supports a One Health approach to better address public health questions and aid in wildlife rehabilitation related to residual lead poisoning from ambient environmental exposures.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the James Craig Scholarship and Dr. Matt Simcik for supporting MI. We also would like to acknowledge the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for their resources and veterinary expertise.
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
- Blood lead
- Environmental exposure
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article