As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Birds exposed to 'hidden pollutants' in south Wales valleys

Birds which have returned to the former industrial valleys of south Wales are being exposed to extremely high levels of hidden pollutants, experts warn.

Tests on eggs of dipper birds found chemicals used as flame retardants in furniture and motor vehicles.

The birds have fed on local rivers in growing numbers since heavy industries such as coal mining declined.

Natural Resources Wales says water quality has dramatically improved in the last 30 years.

Prof Steve Ormerod from Cardiff University's school of biosciences said PBDE and PCB compounds they found may be potentially hazardous to the birds, but the impact is not yet fully known.

"It's a paradox that on one hand dippers are progressively colonising rivers that used to be grossly polluted and they are being exposed to new, novel pollutants whose impact we don't fully understand," he said.

Sign of cleanliness
The tests found that urban rivers in south Wales contain some pollutants at levels, on average, over four times greater than in adjacent rural rivers.

"What we're learning here is that urban areas have increased concentrations," he added.

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