A recent study reports that methylmercury, the neurotoxic organic breakdown product of mercury from industry, is present in birds in higher concentrations than previously thought and at locations previously thought to be unaffected. "The birds not only act as sentinels to what is happening in nature, but the results of these studies propose hypotheses for effects that have not yet been identified for people," said Joanna Burger, a behavioral ecologist who has studied mercury levels in animals.

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