Concentration of lead, cadmium, and mercury in tissues of European beaver (Castor fiber) from the north-eastern Poland

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The aim of the study was to determine the concentrations of lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), and mercury (Hg) in the liver, kidneys, and muscles of European beavers (Castor fiber) and thus to evaluate the degree of heavy metals contamination in Warmia and Mazury region in Poland. The study was conducted on free-living beavers captured in region of Warmia and Mazury during autumn 2011. Concentrations of the elements were determined by atomic absorption spectrometry. The presence of the metals was detected in all individual tissue samples. Mean Pb and Hg concentrations were relatively low. However, the high mean Cd level, especially in the kidneys (7.933 mg/kg) and liver (0.880 mg/kg) was demonstrated. Despite the fact that region of Warmia and Mazury is considered to be “ecologically clean”, the conducted studies indicate that systematic monitoring for the presence of heavy metals is necessary not only in industrialised but also in agricultural regions, as well as in natural ecosystems.

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