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Biomonitoring of lead-contaminated Missouri streams with an assay for erythrocyte δ-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase activity in fish blood

January 1, 1993

The activity of the enzyme δ-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALA-D) in erythrocytes has long been used as a biomarker of lead exposure in humans and waterfowl and, more recently, in fishes. The assay was tested for ALA-D activity in fishes from streams affected by lead in combination with other metals from lead-zinc mining and related activities. Fishes (mostly catostomids) were collected from sites affected by historic and current mining activities, and from sites considered to be unaffected by mining (reference sites). A group of potentially toxic elements was measured in blood and carcass samples of individual fish, as were ALA-D activity, total protein (TP), and hemoglobin (Hb) in blood. Concentrations of mining-related metals (lead, zinc, and cadmium) were significantly greater (P<0.05) in fish blood and carcass at sites affected by historic mining activities than at reference and active mining sites. When analyzed by multiple regression, ALA-D activity, Hb, and TP accounted for 66% of blood-lead and 69% of carcass-lead variability. Differences among species were small. ALA-D activity as a biomarker adequately distinguished sites affected by bioavailable environmental lead. Zinc was the only other metal that affected ALA-D activity; it appeared to ameliorate the inactivation of ALA-D by lead.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1993
Title Biomonitoring of lead-contaminated Missouri streams with an assay for erythrocyte δ-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase activity in fish blood
DOI 10.1007/BF00214335
Authors C.J. Schmitt, M. L. Wildhaber, J.B. Hunn, T. Nash, M. N. Tieger, B. L. Steadman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Series Number
Index ID 70178134
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center