Mockingbirds exposed to sub-lethal levels of lead in urban areas display significantly heightened aggression, said Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers at Tulane University.
The team said their findings highlight the possibility that sub-lethal lead exposure may be common among other wildlife living in urban areas and more work is needed to better understand its full effects. Their study was published in Science of the Total Environment.
Lead pollution, despite reductions in use, remains a global issue, persisting in urban environments from the once-common use of leaded gasoline and lead paint. Residual dust remains in the soil, and lead continues to enter ecosystems through removal of paint during renovations. Those particles are ingested by insects and worms, which are then eaten by birds. It's not yet known how pets, such as dogs or cats, might be affected