Exposure to the carbamate insecticide carbofuran was detected using brain cholinesterase (ChE) reactivation techniques in heron carcasses collected from a potential pesticide exposure incident. Great egrets (Nycticorax nycticorax), great blue herons (Ardea herodias), and black-crowned night herons (Casmerodius albus) were exposed to carbofuran (2,3-dihydro-2,2-dimethyl-7-benzofuranyl methylcarbamate) either by dermal exposure while wading or through ingestion of contaminated food items. Carcasses may have been in the field up to 5 days prior to collection. Brain ChE, substantially inhibited in most samples, increased 7.9–208% in the reactivation assay after 4 to 96 hours at 37 C, providing evidence of exposure to a carbamate pesticide. Crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) identified in the crops of some herons contained carbofuran residues of up to 0.6 parts per million wet weight, providing additional evidence of exposure. Reactivated brain ChE in several samples approached the range of control values.
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Vol. 31 • No. 2