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The translocation of white phosphorus from hen (Gallus domesticus) to egg

Nam, S.I., MacMillan, D.L., Roebuck, B.D.
Environmental toxicology and chemistry 1996 v.15 no.9 pp. 1564-1569
phosphorus, dose response, toxicity, oral administration, strains, animal tissues, chickens, spatial distribution, wild birds, nontarget organisms, pollution, animal organs, adverse effects, bioaccumulation, tissue distribution, sublethal effects
Thousands of waterfowl deaths occurring at Eagle River Flats (ERF), Anchorage, Alaska, USA, have been attributed to the ingestion of white phosphorus (P4) particles. White phosphorus has been found in the egg of one herring gull (Laurus argentatus) and in the yolks of some shorebirds at ERF. The presence of P4 in eggs suggests potential toxic consequences for avian reproduction. This study was undertaken to determine the magnitude and potential importance of P4 translocation from the hen to the egg. Egglaying hens (Gallus domesticus) were gavaged with a single dose of 1, 3, or 5 mg P4/kg body weight or dosed with 1 mg P4/kg body weight for 5 consecutive d. Eggs of dosed hens were collected daily. White phosphorus was extracted from the yolk and the white, individually, with isooctane and analyzed by gas chromatography White phosphorus had no significant effect on chicken weight, egg weight, or shell thickness. However, laying frequency was significantly reduced (p < 0.05) in chickens receiving 1 mg P4/kg body weight for 5 d. For all treatments, P. was detected in the yolk and not in the white. It was first detected in the yolk approx. 1 to 2 d after P4 exposure and became nondetectable 6 to 10 d after P4 exposure. The total P4 recovered from eggs of chickens treated with P4 was less than 0.01% of the administered dose.