International Journal of Applied Science and Technology

ISSN 2221-0997 (Print), 2221-1004 (Online) 10.30845/ijast

Hair Analysis as an Environmental Health Bioindicator: A Case-Study using Pelage of the California Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi)
Jason A. Hubbart

This study investigated hair elemental concentrations as an indicator of environmental health with the California Ground Squirrel (S. beecheyi). 181 hair specimens were analyzed for 35 elements. Soil and hair analysis results showed that for some elements, concentrations were much higher in the environment than in the hair of S. beecheyi. Conversely, some elements were much lower in the environment but have a long biological half-life such that while undetectable in soils they are often slowly excreted in the hair follicle and therefore bioaccumulate (e.g. Copper, Lead, Zinc). On average S. beecheyi did not exhibit toxicological symptoms, though several results were well above the published minimal risk level (MRL). The information presented here may help establish an interval above which undue or excessive exposure may be indicated. These data represent the first large scale investigation of hair analysis of a burrowing animal globally and provide a reservoir of baseline data and information for future studies.

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