Study: Does Living Near An Industrial Area Place Horses At Risk?

Though minerals and trace elements are necessary for horses to survive, the ingestion of too many can be toxic. Researchers from The University of Messina in Italy created a study to learn about the bioaccumulation of vanadium, chromium, cobalt, copper, zinc, cadmium, lead and bismuth in horses that live in an industrial area of Sicily.

Drs. Francesco Fazio, Enrico Gugliandolo, Vincenzo Nava, Giuseppe Piccione, Claudia Giannetto and Patrizia Licata took blood and hair samples from 20 horses to determine the distribution and concentration of mineral elements. They also analyzed hay, water and feed.

The scientists found that minerals were not distributed evenly in the horses; vanadium, copper, zinc and cadmium concentrations were higher in serum than in whole blood and higher in tail har than mane hair. Copper content was affected by season and geographic area, but in each test, copper was within “normal” range.

Zinc was higher in whole blood than in other samples. While zinc was higher than values found in 1992, the authors note that the increase could be from a variety of factors, including smoke from nearby galvanizing operations.

Cadmium was found to be higher in whole blood and cobalt was highest in tail samples. Chromium was found to be significantly higher in tail hair samples than in other samples. Lead was higher in whole blood and serum than in hair samples. The mineral concentration in hay and feed were below toxic levels.

The researchers conclude that hair samples could be used to monitor element concentrations in horses, but further investigation is needed to “body map” the bioaccumulation of different essential trace elements.

Read the study here.

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