of kangaroos have been euthanized due to acute fluoride poisoning in the
Australian state of Victoria, the country's Environment Protection Authority
(EPA) has announced.
poisonings appear to be occurring due to emissions of fluoride from the
Alcoa aluminum smelter at Portland and the Austral Bricks factory at Craigieburn,
the state's first and second biggest emitters of fluoride dust, respectively.
According to Bruce Dawson of the EPA, the toxic chemical is being absorbed
by nearby plants that kangaroos and other animals forage on. The animals
may also be breathing in the chemical directly.
levels of fluoride being emitted by Alcoa and Austral are fully legal under
Australian law. The smelter emits 120 tons of the dust per year, while the
factory emits 66 tons.
can produce discoloration and deformity of teeth and bones, a problem known
as "fluorosis" that has been well documented in cattle and humans.
According to the Sunday Age, more than 200 kangaroos in Victoria have been
euthanized after suffering from lameness caused by fluorosis.
EPA was first alerted to the problem in 2005, although wildlife workers
had noticed lameness in kangaroos in the area as early as 2001. According
to Jenny Charles of Melbourne University, 90 percent of 130 kangaroos living
near the Alcoa smelter showed signs of dental fluorosis, and 25 percent
had visible lumps in their legs or arms.
of 49 kangaroos autopsied after being culled from the smelter area in a
single day were suffering from excessive bone growth and lesions on their
ankles, calves and paws.
were in real pain,'' said wildlife shelter operator Manfred Zabinskas, recounting
his horror at seeing so many sick kangaroos.
the kangaroos at the brick factory site had lower levels of fluoride in
their bodies, their fluorosis symptoms were even worse than those seen near
by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
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