Few ecotoxicological studies on mammals use non-destructive methodologies, despite the growing ethical concern over the use of destructive sampling methods. In the present study we assessed exposure of hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethanes (DDTs), hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB), by investigating concentrations of these compounds in soils and hedgehog hair from seven study sites around the urban area of Antwerp, Belgium. No relationships were observed between organochlorine compound concentrations in soils and hair from the different study areas. Furthermore, the individual variation of contamination levels in hair within study sites was high, especially for HCHs and HCB, and hair and soil had different relative profiles for PCBs, DDTs and HCHs. Our results show that concentrations of organochlorine compounds in soils alone are not predictive of the risk of these pollutants to hedgehogs and that tissue analyses are preferred to soil analyses in exposure and risk assessment studies.
- persistent organic pollutants