U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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Harr, K.E., Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoenv.2017.07.011


U.S. government work.


A series of toxicity tests were conducted to assess the effects of low to moderate exposure to artificially weathered Deepwater Horizon Mississippi Canyon 252 crude oil on representative avian species as part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment. The present report summarizes effects of oral exposure (n=26) of double crested cormorants (DCCO; Phalacrocorax auritus) to 5 or 10 ml oil kg−1 day−1 for up to 21 days or dermal application (n=25) of 13 ml oil to breast and back feathers every three days totaling 6 applications in 21 days on organ weights and histopathology. Absolute and relative kidney and liver weights were increased in birds exposed to oil. Additionally, gross and/or histopathologic lesions occurred in the kidney, heart, pancreas and thyroid. Clinically significant renal lesions in the orally dosed birds included squamous metaplasia and increased epithelial hypertrophy of the collecting ducts and renal tubules and mineralization in comparison to controls. Gross cardiac lesions including thin walls and flaccid musculature were documented in both orally and dermally dosed birds and myocardial fibrosis was found in low numbers of dermally dosed birds only. Cytoplasmic vacuolation of the exocrine pancreas was noted in orally dosed birds only. Thyroid follicular hyperplasia was increased in dermally dosed birds only possibly due to increased metabolism required to compensate damaged feather integrity and thermoregulate. Gastrointestinal ulceration was found in orally dosed birds only. There were no significant hepatic histopathologic lesions induced by either exposure route. Therefore, hepatic histopathology is likely not a good representation of oil-induced damage. Taken together, the results suggest that oral or dermal exposure of DCCOs to artificially weathered MC252 crude oil induced organ damage that could potentially affect survivability.

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