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Environment

Perfluorinated chemicals found in alligators, crocodiles

Results can point researchers to water pollution hot spots

by Jessica Morrison
September 1, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 35

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Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs)—industrial chemicals that have tainted drinking water supplies in locales across the world—are accumulating in large reptiles. In two studies, researchers at Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston, S.C., and affiliated institutions found PFCs in the blood plasma of American alligators in the southeastern U.S. and African crocodiles in South Africa’s Kruger National Park (Chemosphere 2016, DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2016.03.072; Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2016, DOI: 10.1002/etc.3600). The reptiles, which can live for decades close to one body of water, have been used to identify mercury contamination. Future work with them could identify hotspots where drinking water warrants testing for PFCs, the authors say.

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