Transboundary pollution: Persistent organochlorine pesticides in migrant birds of the southwestern United States and Mexico Academic Article uri icon


  • The hypothesis that migratory birds accumulate persistent organochlorine pesticides (POPs) during the winter in Latin America has been prevalent for many years, particularly since 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane (DDT) was banned in the United States in 1972. It has been suggested that peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus), black-crowned night herons (Nycticorax nycticorax), white-faced ibises (Plegadis chihi), various migratory waterfowl and shorebirds, and other avian species accumulate higher concentrations of POPs while on migration or on their wintering grounds in Latin America. Nonetheless, the data obtained thus far are limited, and there is no clear pattern to suggest that such accumulation occurs on a widespread basis. In this review wildlife contaminant studies conducted along the U.S.-Mexico border and throughout Mexico are discussed. The results for the most part seem to indicate that no major accumulation of 2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)-1,1- dichloroethylene) (DDE), the most persistent organochlorine compound, has occurred or been reported for most parts of Mexico. The majority of the DDE values in birds from Mexico were similar to those reported in birds from the southwestern United States during the same years. More work needs to be done, particularly in those cotton-producing areas of Mexico where DDT was applied heavily in the past (e.g., Chiapas and Michoacan). Because DDT is still used for malaria control and may still be used in agriculture in Chiapas, this state is probably the one where most migrant species would still be at a significant risk of increased accumulation of DDE and DDT.

author list (cited authors)

  • Mora, M. A.

publication date

  • January 1997