Ecotoxicological risks associated with land treatment of petrochemical wastes. III. Immune function and hematology of cotton rats

James A. Wilson, Ruth I. Carlson, David M. Janz, Robert L. Lochmiller, Jackie L. Schroder, Nicholas T. Basta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Landfarming is a widely used method of treating petrochemical waste through microbial biodegradation. The effects of residual petrochemical contamination on wildlife, especially terrestrial mammals, are poody understood. The effects of contaminants on the immune system and hematology of cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) living on five abandoned petrochemical landfarms (units 1-5) in Oklahoma were studied. Cotton rats were sampled seasonally (summer and winter) from each landfarm and from five ecologically matched reference sites for 2 yr (1998-2000) and returned to the laboratory for immunological and hematological assays. Overall analysis indicated that rats inhabiting landfarms exhibited decreased relative spleen size compared to rats collected from reference sites, with the landfarm at unit 1 showing the greatest reduction. Cotton rats collected from landfarms also had increased hemoglobin, hematocrit, and platelet levels and decreased blood leukocytes during summer. During winter, an increase in the number of popliteal node white blood cells was observed from rats collected on landfarms. No marked difference was detected for lymphocyte proliferation in response to concanavalin A, pokeweed, or interleukin-2. Lymphokine-activated killer cell lytic ability showed a seasonal pattern, but no treatment differences. No differences between landfarm and reference sites were detected in the hypersensitivity reaction of rats given an intradermal injection of phytohemagluttinin (PHA-P). Comparisons within individual sites indicated that two sites (units 1 and 3) had the greatest effects on immune function and hematology of cotton rats. The results of this study suggest that residual petrochemical waste affects the immune system and hematology of cotton rats living on abandoned landfarms during summer and is complicated by variation in the contaminants found on individual petroleum sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-363
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part A
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 28 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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