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The habitats of wild primates are increasingly threatened by surrounding anthropogenic pressures, but little is known about primate exposure to frequently used chemicals. We applied a novel method to simultaneously measure 21 legacy pesticides (OCPs), 29 current use pesticides (CUPs), 47 halogenated flame retardants (HFRs), and 19 organophosphate flame retardants in feces from baboons in the U.S.A., howler monkeys in Costa Rica, and baboons, chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, and red colobus in Uganda. The most abundant chemicals were α-hexachlorocyclohexane (α-HCH), β-hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH), and hexachlorobenzene among OCPs across all sites, chlorpyrifos among CUPs in Costa Rica and Indiana, decabromodiphenylethane (DBDPE) in Costa Rica and Indiana and 2, 2', 4, 4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47) in Uganda as HFRs, and tris(2-butoxyethyl) phosphate (TBOEP) as OPFRs across all sites. The detected chemical concentrations were generally higher in red-tailed monkeys and red colobus than in chimpanzees and baboons. Our methods can be used to examine the threat of chemical pollutants to wildlife, which is critical for endangered species where only noninvasive methods can be used.


Shaorui Wang, Tessa Steiniche, Jessica M Rothman, Richard W Wrangham, Colin A Chapman, Richard Mutegeki, Rodolfo Quirós, Michael D Wasserman, Marta Venier. Feces are Effective Biological Samples for Measuring Pesticides and Flame Retardants in Primates. Environmental science & technology. 2020 Oct 06;54(19):12013-12023

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PMID: 32900185

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