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Assessment of bird exposure to lead at Tyndall and Beale Air Force Bases, 2016–17

February 5, 2019

Soil contamination by lead (Pb) from past small munitions training on Beale Air Force Base, California, and Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, may result in adverse effects for passerine birds that utilize the locations. A study was conducted during 2016-17 by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Air Force, at both Air Force Bases (AFBs) to assess the risk of bird exposure to Pb. Two different methods were used to estimate exposure. The first was analysis of blood and feather samples collected from birds captured on both AFBs, and the second was food chain modeling using data on Pb concentrations in dietary items (invertebrates and seeds) collected from both AFBs. Lead concentrations in blood and feathers for birds captured at Beale AFB indicate low exposure and risk; potential toxicity is possible based on blood and feather data for birds from Tyndall AFB. Food chain modeling utilizing dietary contamination indicates a risk likelihood of up to 35 percent at Beale AFB and up to 34 percent at Tyndall AFB. Lead exposure from incidental soil ingestion increased risk likelihood at both AFBs and is a significant uncertainty in this risk assessment. A companion data release for data collected during this project can be found at

Publication Year 2019
Title Assessment of bird exposure to lead at Tyndall and Beale Air Force Bases, 2016–17
DOI 10.3133/sir20185164
Authors Timothy A. Bargar
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2018-5164
Index ID sir20185164
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center