Assessing Portable Lead Analyzers for Wildlife Conservation

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Lead exposure in wildlife is a widespread management and conservation concern. Low-cost, portable lead analyzers have improved access and cost-effectiveness of determining lead concentrations in animal blood samples, yet analytical bias and lack of quality-assurance–quality-control measures can confound results.

Atomic chart entry for lead

Researchers studied how instrument bias is addressed in wildlife toxicology literature, developed quantitative approaches for correcting bias, and provided recommendations to ensure robust data quality when using these instruments. Using data from multiple bird species and over 450 blood samples, researchers found that estimates of blood lead concentrations were 30–38 percent lower using portable analyzers than results obtained from standard spectrometric-based methods. They developed regression equations based on this analysis to facilitate conversions of lead concentrations from one analytical method to another. Researchers also proposed a series of guidelines to follow when using portable lead analyzers to improve data validity.


Herring, G., Eagles-Smith, C.A., Bedrosian, B., Craighead, D., Domenech, R., Langner, H.W., Parish, C., Shreading, A., Welch, A., Wolstenholme, R., 2018, Critically assessing the utility of portable lead analyzers for wildlife conservation: Wildlife Society Bulletin, p. online,

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Date published: November 16, 2017
Status: Active

Contaminant Ecology Research Team (FRESC)

The FRESC Contaminant Ecology research program evaluates the distribution, movement, and ecological effects of environmental contaminants across the landscape and strives to provide relevant science in support of natural resource conservation, management, and decision making.