Household Chemicals Eyed in Duck Deaths

DENVER, July 28 (UPI) — Chemicals found in many U.S. household products may have contributed to the deaths of more than 1,000 ducks in the winter of 2007-2008, wildlife officials say.

The study began after abnormally high numbers of birds were dying at various wastewater-treatment plants along the Rocky Mountains in north-central Colorado, The Denver Post reported Wednesday.

Extended periods of cold weather during the winter covered much of the duck habitat in the region with ice, sending the birds to look for open water at wastewater-treatment plants.

There the ducks were exposed to chemicals known as surfactants that break down surface tension in water, the study by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded.

The compound, found on their feathers, likely compromised their ability to shed water.

Surfactants are added to many products including cleaners, detergents and fabric softeners, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says.

The type of surfactant discovered on the birds’ feathers was polyethylene glycol, considered a compound of “emerging concern” by some regulators, scientists and others, the Post reported.

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Categorized | Birds, Chemicals, Fish, Other
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