Brain cholinesterase activity was measured to evaluate pesticide exposure in wild birds. Thermal reactivation of brain cholinesterase was used to differentiate between carbamate and organophosphorus pesticide exposure. Brain cholinesterase activity was compared with gas chromatography and mass spectrometry of stomach contents. Pesticides were identified and confirmed in 86 of 102 incidents of mortality from 29 states within the USA from 1986 through 1991. Thermal reactivation of cholinesterase activity was used to correctly predict carbamates in 22 incidents and organophosphates in 59 incidents. Agreement (P < 0.001) between predictions based on cholinesterase activities and GC/MS results was significant.
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Vol. 31 • No. 2