Bamboo comprises 90-100% of the Pandas diet and is collected from all over the Sichuan province to feed the bears insatiable appetite. In a previous study that we performed last year, the bamboo that was collected near the city center in comparison to samples taken near the CCRCGP Panda Base contained ~10 times the amount of total mercury. This could indicate that the pandas are consuming more mercury than is deemed acceptable by EPA standards. This could also provide insight into where the bamboo should be harvested from.
In a second study continued from the previous year, we are trying a simple technique and comparing the difference in total mercury between unwashed and washed bamboo. Maybe a simple hosing can make a difference and bring the consumption of mercury contaminated bamboo down to a minimum. We won’t have these results until late in the year.
If you care to read more about the previous THg Bamboo study, here is the link- Total Mercury in Wild Bamboo from Sichuan, China