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Lead (Pb) in the Environment

Exposure to lead (Pb) is a global health problem for both humans and wildlife. Despite a dramatic decline in human Pb exposure following restrictions of leaded gasoline and industry and thereby an overall reduction of Pb entering the environment, Pb exposure continues to be a problem for wildlife species. Literature on scavenging terrestrial mammals, including interactions between Pb exposure and life history, is however limited.

Life-long Pb exposure in Scandinavian brown bears may have adverse effects both on individual and population levels. The high blood Pb concentrations found in brown bears contrast the general reduction in environmental Pb contamination over the past decades in Scandinavia and more research is needed to identify the sources and pathways of Pb exposure in the brown bears.

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Bears are exposed to various sources of lead (Pb) in the environment. Illustration: Juliana D. Spahr,

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