Bird feathers as a biomonitor for environmental pollutants: Prospects and pitfalls
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionTrAC. Trends in analytical chemistry. 2019, 118 223-226. 10.1016/j.trac.2019.05.019
Due to increasing amounts of hazardous chemicals released into the environment, there is a high demand for developing easy and non-destructive biomonitoring tools. In a recent paper published in Trends in Analytical Chemistry, Rutkowska et al. (2018) concluded that feathers are a good matrix for biomonitoring of environmental pollutants in birds. In this commentary, we discuss the general conclusion of this paper. We provide several examples for which this statement is not correct, and we emphasize that only for legacy persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury there is currently enough scientific evidence to use feathers as a reliable biomonitor, given that appropriate sampling designs and QA/QC protocols are taken into account. Furthermore, we discuss different pretreatment (e.g. feather washing) and analytical protocols along with specific QA/QC to be considered. In summary, this commentary provides an overview of the prospects and pitfalls when using feathers as a biomonitor for environmental pollutants.