Publication Date

Spring 2014

Document Type

Project Summary

Degree Name

Master of Science


Analytical Chemistry

First Advisor

Walter Henne, Jr., Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Shailendra Kumar, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Stephen Kent, M.B.A.


Mercury contamination has been shown to have a negative impact in fish-eating birds, including impacts on behavior, reproductive success, and their overall survival. Higher than normal mercury levels have been detected in birds who depend on fish for their food. High levels of mercury have been detected in the bird’s blood and feathers using analytical techniques. The present accepted method of determining levels of mercury in feathers and blood is the use of atomic spectroscopy. The amount of mercury in feathers appears to depend on the growth of the feathers with more growth associated with lower levels of mercury contamination. In this review paper, I will review the role of atomic spectroscopy in determining mercury levels in bird blood and the feathers of birds.